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Healthy Living Recipes

Deb Morgan: Here in the Berkshires, the wind begins to blow in some really cold nights in November. What to do? Make stew. This month I give you one of my favorite stews, with vegetarian and nonvegetarian versions. Either way you prepare it, the lentils and flavors in this dish will warm your whole body and give you the strength needed this fall to “chop wood and carry water,” as the saying goes. Serve it over a nice quinoa pilaf with a side salad, and topped with the yogurt dressing.

Lentil and Chicken Stew

Serves four.
Preparation time 40 minutes.

2 each of thighs, legs, and wings of an organic chicken
1 cup French lentils
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 small onion, diced, or 1 leek
2 stalks celery, diced
2 small carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup cooking wine (white or red)
1 tablespoon zahatar (Middle Eastern spice mix)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon capers
3 cups water or stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sauté onion (or leek), celery, and carrots in the grapeseed oil at medium temperature, until they soften and begin to release all their wonderful flavors. Add garlic and tomato paste, and sauté a few minutes, then add chicken, zahatar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté a few minutes longer until the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Deglaze the pan with the wine. (To deglaze, splash the wine on the sticky parts of the pan and scrape the pan to release the flavor of these sticky parts.) Add lentils, water (or stock), and the capers. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 45 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and lentils are soft. Adjust seasoning, adding the remaining salt as needed. Splash the extra virgin olive oil on top right before serving.

This recipe also works well in a clay pot in the oven. Simply do the sauté first on the stove top (using your clay pot if it can be used on the stove top); then place dish in oven for the cooking time. If I have the time, I prefer to do it this way on a low temperature (around 250 degrees) for several hours. The chicken will fall off the bones, and you can remove the bones before serving. Alternatively, you could also use a slow cooker.

Read John Bagnulo’s commentary: Chicken, Lentils, and So Much More.

A great warming dish, this simple stew is nutritious and balanced on many levels. The nutrients the chicken provides—vitamin B12 and zinc, for instance—supplement the substantial nutritional offerings of the lentils (which include folate, calcium, and magnesium). Even with the chicken, this stew still has heart-friendly potential, with the lentils acting as a great source of fiber. The celery in this recipe is often maligned as a high-sodium food—this isn’t true. While celery does contain sodium, the levels are very modest, and research has actually shown that, in fact, celery helps lower blood pressure. Garlic, onions, and carrots can help with that as well.

Whether or not this chicken stew helps treat a cold is up for debate. It is my opinion that it would probably depend on these questions: Does the person enjoy the stew? Does the person believe that the stew will help?


Lentil and Tempeh Stew

Use above recipe ingredients but substitute one 8-ounce package of tempeh for the chicken. To prepare the tempeh: Cut into 1-inch cubes. Toss the tempeh with a combination of 1 tablespoon tamari and 1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar. Place tempeh on an oiled baking dish and bake for 15 minutes until golden. While the tempeh is baking, begin the vegetable and lentil process described above. When lentils are halfway through their cooking, add the baked tempeh and continue cooking lentils until done.

Yogurt Dressing

¼ cup organic plain yogurt
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon water, if desired
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: shredded cucumber

Combine dressing ingredients (use water if needed, depending on preferred consistency). You may also enjoy tossing in shredded cucumber.

Find more delicious and nutritious recipes in Kripalu Recipes.