One of the best things about some of Spain's comfort food is that it is very healthy. Probably to make up for the other half of our comfort food which could give you a heart attack if eaten too frequently! I feel lucky to have grown up on the Mediterranean diet. It's fresh, varied, tasty and so good for you. However, this is something that I didn't particularly appreciate when I was younger, and I am not the only one. Ask any Spanish person about lentils and they will probably all tell you the same story. We hated them as kids but we were forced to eat them by our mums because they were so good for you. Then, suddenly one day as adults we started really loving them.
With Spanish traditional dishes, there are as many recipes as families. They are always passed on from generation to generation not by giving a recipe, but by seeing how it's made at home, so this is by no means THE authentic Spanish lentil stew. For a start, a lot of people eat it with sausage or chorizo, which I do sometimes, but because right now I'm trying to eat less meat and more vegetables, this is another version which is just as tasty and less fatty.
I usually make a big pot so I have enough to take to work for lunches. To avoid getting bored of it, on the second or third day I add some raw rice to the pan and cook it with the rest of the leftovers.
Firstly, heat a little bit of olive oil (about two tablespoons) in a large saucepan. Add the onion and tomato, stirring frequently.
When the onion is soft, add the rest of the ingredients and cover them in water.
Bring to the boil. This stew tastes better when it's cooked on very low heat over the course of 2-3 hours. However, if you don't have the time, let it simmer for an hour and keep checking that the stock doesn't dry up. Add more water if you feel you need to.
If you prefer to do the meaty version (it really is delicious), all you need to do is cook a couple of sausages or some slices of chorizo, slice them up and add them to the saucepan when you add the veg. Another optional that makes it more indulgent is adding a splash of white wine.
2 tins of lentils
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 ripe tomato, finely chopped
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 5 potatoes
- 3 carrots
- 2 litres of water
Hope you enjoy it, and if you are one of my Spanish friends, I'd love it if you'd share your own recipe in the comments below!