Monday, 21 January 2008

Lentil Stew (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

The thought of being caught in a love triangle sounds rather exotic doesn’t it? Like I’m a glamorous 1950’s star calmly sipping a cocktail whilst two rugged men square up to each other and fight for the right to buy me diamonds.

The reality is, alas, a little different. One point of my love triangle is of course me. The other two points are made up of a sturdy lass named Appetite (we’ll call her A) and at the other point is a toned, athletic, sleek, handsome brute named Exercise (we’ll call him E). You’d think there’d be no contest, right? I mean who would you rather be with?

The trouble is, A and I have so much history. For as long as I can remember she has been a loving, comforting friend. In the early days it was great. I’d spend just as much time as I needed with her, and come away feeling satisfied, but not overwhelmed in any way. I’m not really sure when things started to change, did she get jealous as I pored over my books in order to pass my exams? Was it when I was dumped by a boyfriend? At some point there was a change in the way she dealt with me. When I’d had enough and wanted to stop, she’d offer me more and more and more food. She is so persuasive, seductive, sensual and comforting; which girl could say no?

Then along came E. I was bowled over on the very first day. He was so versatile; no sport was too much for him. Swimming, gymnastics, cross-country running, rounders, netball, cycling, rock climbing; he showed me how to do it all. I loved being with him. For a while it was fine. I’d spend time with E and then be really happy to see A; she liked my increased desire for her.

Then somewhere it all went wrong. Life would get in the way and I’d have no time to see E. Appetite kept on with her feminine wiles, and a lot of the time I’d eat just to please her, even when I didn’t really want to. Then I’d swing back to E, A would get jealous, I would get miserable, and again I’d eat just to please her. So don’t believe the hype; being in a love triangle is no fun.

It always comes to a head over Christmas. I don’t know what gets into A but she is at her most domineering,
‘Here, eat this, go on. What do you mean you don’t want chocolate for breakfast? It’s Christmas, everyone does it. Have another drink, and another, now mix it with Baileys, what is wrong with you? You’re so boring’.

This year, I snapped on Boxing Day. I stormed out of the house and spent some time with E on the trampoline. I came back feeling refreshed, but A’s face of thunder made me anxious. Yet I’d promised that I would see Exercise the next day. We got on our bikes and went to the woods to get down and dirty. It was so cool; I skidded on ice, fell off, and my wheels got so churned up with mud they wouldn’t move and I had to get off and push. We arrived back at the house filthy and happy.

A was waiting for us on the drive and I immediately felt worried. There's no delight when I see her anymore, all the old magic has gone. E saw the look on my face and spoke gently to us both,

‘Look, it doesn’t have to be like this, we can all get along together. A, you need to stop being so controlling and Pig you just have to learn to say no. And A, you’ve got to give Pig some space, she needs to come out with me, it makes her feel good. Both of you need to just try and relax’.

A and I nodded obediently. I tried to control the fluttering of my heart; I knew he was talking sense, and perhaps this year we might all find a balance? I really hope so.

A seemed in a contrite mood as she placed my lunch before me that day,
‘I’ve been too conniving’ she said, ‘let’s just try and be friends, and I promise I won’t try and dominate’.
I smiled lovingly at her, it's so good when we're relaxed together.
‘Look’ she said, ‘I’ve made you this healthy stew for lunch. Eat as much as you need. It’ll help your sluggish digestion and you’ll feel really smug when you’ve eaten it’.
I happily did as she told me and even agreed to have a mince pie for pudding; well, love is all about give and take isn’t it?

Love Triangle Lentil Stew (feeds 6)

If you are fighting with post-Christmas weight, this wholesome stew is for you. How can I put this delicately - I wouldn't want to use the term 'laxative' as that might imply I have some sort of eating disorder, and I'm definitely denying that - but let's just say if you need to speed those excess kilos on their way, this dish might help.

The vegetables listed below are just a guide, you can mix and match depending on what is in your fridge, or going off in your organic veg box.

150g Puy lentils (weighed before cooking)
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic (less if you prefer)
3 large mushrooms
4 carrots
Potatoes: Count 1 large potato per person, then a few more for luck
200g (approx) of green beans
2 tsp paprika
2 tbsps gluten free yeast extract
200ml red wine
1tbsp gluten free Dijon mustard
1-2 tbsp tomato puree
1-1.5 litres of boiling water
Olive oil to fry
crushed red chillis / fresh green chilli entirely optional

Note this is not a thick gravy stew, the juice is quite runny to let you soak it up with lots of bread. If you prefer a thick stew, then thicken it with cornflour and water (see the packet for instructions) right at the end.

  • Cook the puy lentils as per the packet instructions. They usually take around 20-30 minutes. You don't want them to be too soft (they have a little time in the stew at the end), so make sure they don't turn to mush . Set the lentils aside; they can be prepared up to 4 hours before if necessary
  • Prepare all the veg: peel the potatoes, peel the carrots, top, tail and chop the beans. Chop the potatoes into chunks or rounds, same for the carrots. Chop the mushrooms and finely chop the garlic
  • Put the onion, garlic, carrots and mushrooms into a large saucepan with a lid
  • Glug in some olive oil and put the pan over a low heat, stirring to prevent sticking
  • After a few minutes add the paprika and stir. Put the lid on the saucepan and allow everything to sweat a little, don't forget to stir so it doesn't stick. Let it cook for about 5 minutes
  • Boil the kettle and measure out 1 litre of boiling water. Add the yeast extract and tomato puree and stir until more or less dissolved
  • Add the potatoes to the saucepan, keep stirring so that they don't stick, and then add the yeast extract stock. Add the red wine (you could omit this if you'd rather), stir, partially cover and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes. Note, the stock should be at least level with the potatoes, if it's not, add some more water
  • After 15 minutes the potatoes should be almost tender. Add the green beans and increase the heat a little to make it bubble. Leave the green beans to cook for about 5 minutes
  • How is your stock doing? Is the stew looking a tad dry? If so, add the other 500ml of water, or a little more wine
  • When the beans have had 5 minutes add the lentils. Give it all a good stir and let it bubble for about 5 minutes more
  • Stir in the Dijon mustard. Now taste it and see what you may need to add a little more seasoning; it will depend on your palate
  • Ladle this out into bowls and let the steam warm your face.
  • If you wish, sprinkle with crushed red chillis (or a finely chopped green one); they'll help speed up your digestion too ;-)
  • If you can eat wheat, this is good with naughty white baguette or virtuous seedy brown loaf
  • If you can't eat wheat or gluten, why not make some bread rolls to go with this?!
  • Enjoy your meal, and please, eat until you're gently full, not stuffed to the gills
© Pig in the Kitchen, Jan 2008

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elizabethm said...

Fabulous blog, Pig. are you sure you are not talking about me? I have settled to a little more time with A and less with E but more relaxed in my relationships with both than I used to be.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

ElizabethM, thank-you love. I suspect I am talking about many women! I aspire to your settled relationship with both ;-)

Potty Mummy said...

Pig, I am SO going to make this. Maybe not just yet as Boy #1 needs anything BUT a laxative right now (poor sausage), but definitely soon. In the meantime I will just have to make do with Redbush tea (Rooibos if you're Dutch). It has the same effect - just in case you're interested?)

Brom said...

I've just started seeing "E" again.... Nothing queer about it either.

So Chili speeds up the digestion?, didn't know that. I won't say that I'm addicted, but I seem to add it to anything I cook, and have some on the side of everything else!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

PottyM, oh poor boy number 1...yes, nappy changing after lentil stew is never good. How can you drink the Redbush stuff? I can't bear the taste... My brother says green tea speeds up digestion. Oh, did you mean Redbush is a laxative? right, well, maybe I CAN bear the taste!

Brom, I'm casting no aspersions on your masculinity, i think it's a very good thing that you're seeing E again. I've always thought you might look a little like the man I linked to in my post, am I wrong??!! ;-)

Look what I found for you:

...3) Eat Spicy Food
There is evidence to show that spices, especially chilli, can raise the metabolic rate by up to 50% for up to 3 hours after you’ve eaten a spicy meal.

Drinks containing caffeine also stimulate the metabolism, as does green tea.' Taken from:

I'm off to eat some chilli, give myself a Redbush enema and down lots of coffee, hurrah!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Mmmmm, lovely. I'll take the lentils, chilli, and the coffee.

I avoid E, I wish I could get along with her but she can be such a.....! Though I may come to love her at 'Back School.' Apparently she and I are going to have to become very well acquainted, if I'm to avoid the knife wielding surgeon! Perhaps I could learn to love her afterall.

Miss Thistle said...

I know E & A also. I think E is addictive and A is very enjoyable. Last week I bought some delicious 'Chocolate Fridge Cake' from M&S, £2.50 for 6 very small slices, just the right mixture of chocolate, biscuits, raisins and crunch. So I thought, this must be really easy to make. And it was, I made 24 slices on Friday and now they've all gone.... Next time I'll stick to M&S .. must dash, need to do some exercise... Miss T xxx

Iota said...

I'm feeling the urge to make some dreadful joke about ending up in A&E, but I'll resist...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

A@LF, maybe you don't like E because your E is a girl? Take my E, he is one sexy well-toned bad boy and definitely worth getting out of bed for! I'm concerned to hear about Back School (a cross between Dunce school and 'backward' school?)...have they recommended Pilates? It really strengthens back muscles and is like a bad ass version of Yoga; not quite so fluffy, but still with the tinkly music.

Miss T, you make a salient point; to whom would you rather be addicted, E or A? I'm with E anyday... Well done you for eating 24 slices of the fattening chocolate treat; i hope you did the Great North Run to make up for it. And a happy new year to you love!

Iota, grrooooaaaannnn!

rilly super said...

oh pig, your french residence and penchant for manage a trois conjure up an early sixtie jeanne moreau in oven gloves

on s'est perds de vue, on s'est reconne..

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I think I'm in serious need of dunce school but that would indeed be a step backwards. They say back school includes some pilates, I don't think they do tinkly music though. Core strength and core stability, repeat, core str.... ad infinitum.

I wish iota had made the A&E joke...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Ah Rilly, eet az offun bin said zat I reesembul ze Jeanne Moreau, zat I 'av 'er booty. Moi? I yam uh sexual goddess. Merci fur yurr visite

A@LF, ah yees, ze core strength and ze core stabilite, when yoo are ze sex goddess like moi, 'aving zeez sings eez - ow you say? - esensual. Eeet iz a shame zat Iota deed not mek us larf wiz 'er yoke.

Mya said...

I love this post. Proof, if ever it were needed (which it clearly isn't) that you are completely BONKERS! It sounds like the sort of stew I need - I'll lose weight offloading,AND whilst sprinting to the lav. Inspired.

Mya x

reluctantmemsahib said...

Brilliant blog, Clever Pig. Thing is, I'm starving now ... A wins out then, usually does. E is such tiresomely repetitive company I find? even introduction of new gym membership or running shoes doesn't seem to inspire its company? Whereas A ... so many different guises. So many moments in the day, occassions in the year when it is the perfect complement. Off to forage ...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

MYA, I'm glad you love the post, thank-you. Bonkers?? Bonkers??!! Lucid, pithy, imaginative? No? Ok, I'll take bonkers then ;-) Eat the stew and fade away; it's a win-win...

RM, thank-you. Yes, you have a very good point, E may look amazing, but he can be a bit of a bore. I guess we can't have it all in a man; it's either body, no brain, brain, too much flabby body. Excepting my dear husband of course. And any other lovely male readers. And it's true that A is a wily old bird, she can dress herself up in so many different ways... Go forage girl!

Frog in the Field said...

Absolutely fab Blog, loved it.
Not too erotic, no foul language, definitely bonkers...your getting very good!

Brom said...

Pig! I thought I'd covered all the bases with regard to my pic ever appearing on't net, and you found one that slipped thru'. My cover is blown!

Now, I'll have to search and find yours.

Elsie Button said...

Pig - you are a genius! that was bloody brilliant! i have to read it again now. you are one clever and poetic lady.

As for lentils. Yuk! my mum brought me up on lentils and now i am rebelling!

mutterings and meanderings said...

LOL-ing as they say!

Hope you get the balance right Pig.

Potty Mummy said...

I'm sure you already have a plethora of these Pig, but I'm in the unusual position of being able to hand out an award - check it out on my blog...

KayKat said...

Yum! Don't you love those puy lentils? Such a fabulous earthy flavour - and they work great just cooked up or in a soup/stew.

Looks delicious.

Sweet Irene said...

Another fantastic recipe and another fantastic post, which is why I keep coming back for more. You add color and flavor to my blog hopping. I must say that you take very appealing photographs of your food. They make me want to bite into it.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

FITF, have I ever been erotic? Foul-mouthed? Not on my own blog anyway, I just reserve that for your lovely domain! Bonkers? Where are these filthy lies coming from?

dear Brom, but I included my picture in this post! It's the first link in the post. Tsk, you're not accusing me of being coy are you?

ElsieB, I blush! Why thank-you! Am rather alarmed that you are rebelling against lentils. Is this the future for me? Will my children be steak-eating, ham-sucking, lentil-hating fascists?
(i;m not suggesting for a nano second that you are any of those things. Well, perhaps the lentil-hating thing, but most certainly not any of the other fascist, ham-sucking things.)

M&M, balance does not come easily to me...I can but hope. The french for scales is 'balance'...they definitely don't go easy on me.

PottyM...oooo! how exciting! On my way

KayKat, thank-you for your visit. Puy lentils are the only ones i love, the red ones fall apart when you cook them.

Sweet, sweet Irene, thank-you for your lovely words. When I'm next in the nederlands I shall pop by with a tasty morsel!

Spice Rack said...

I love the recipe, It can be prepared easily using only the basic herbs and spices from the spice rack. The photography is natural, and I love it because it doesn't look fake.