Braised lentils seem to pop up in various forms globally, no doubt because people have known for a very long time how good they are for us! This recipe for braised lentils is my vegan version of one of the staple dishes of Lanzarote – full of herbs and tomatoes, it is a substantial meal if served as a main with garlicky mashed potatoes and makes a fabulous side dish for tapas, scooped up with torn flatbreads.
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How many recipes begin with these ingredients do you think? I send my children to gather onions, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, thyme and bay as the base for a meal so often that they are surprised if I go off piste! Here I’ve added in vegan sausages, paprika, green lentils and green peppers. The smell as it was all bubbling away was mouth watering!
The original recipe from Lanzarote calls for garlic sausage and bacon which I have replaced with delicious herby vegan sausages. It also requires the lentils and the meat to be boiled together which would be a disaster for vegan sausages so I fried mine first and then added them into the pot with everything else towards the end of cooking. Luckily I had lovely big tomatoes in my organic veg box last week so they went happily into this dish, unfortunately they are lacking in flavour at this time of year so I adapted the recipe and chucked in some tomato puree to pep it up a bit!
So, here it is, my adaptation of this flavourful, sunny dish from the beautiful island of Lanzarote down there in the Canaries!
Braised Lentils with Sausage, Tomatoes and Peppers
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 75 g dried green lentils
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 large carrot, scrubbed and sliced
- 2 large or 4 smaller cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, pulled off stalks and roughly chopped
- 100 g tomato, diced
- 100 g green pepper, deseeded and diced
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 3 vegan sausages, cooked according to packet instructions and sliced
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the green lentils and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes until just tender but still with bite.
- Add the carrots and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.
- While the lentils and carrots are cooking heat the olive oil, gently in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Add the onions, cover, reduce the heat to very low and cook for 5 minutes or so until soft and just beginning to brown.
- Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, tomatoes, peppers, paprika and tomato puree and cook gently for a further minute or so until aromatic.
- Add two tablespoons of water, cover and stew on the lowest temperature for 10 minutes. Add a little more water if necessary.
- Add the cooked lentils, carrots and sliced sausages plus 4 tablespoonfuls of the reserved cooking liquid.
- Cover and cook gently for 10 minutes.
- Add sea salt and ground black pepper to taste.
Lanzarote has a wide selection of dishes to choose from starting with tapas (always a good place to start as a vegetarian!) which can include those delicious padrón peppers (pimientos de padrón) cooked in sea salt and olive oil, wonderful olives and flatbreads and, of course, tortilla! Lanzaroteños grow an abundance of fruit with their wonderful climate and there are agricultural markets all over the island to buy locally grown fruit and veg. I am intrigued by the local speciality papas arrugadas which translates as wrinkled potatoes and which are traditionally cooked in their skins in sea water – I’m definitely going to try this on the boat this summer! I’ll also have a go at making mojo sauce to dip them in – it can be green and mild with herbs or hot and spicy made with chilli! I think a Lanzarote picnic on the beach might be a good idea – perhaps we should set sail for the south right now!
I served my braised lentils up with some red pepper focaccia bread and some cavolo nero kale, wilted in a little olive oil but this would also work really well with garlicky mashed potatoes or those wrinkled potatoes I mentioned earlier! I made more than I needed (as I always do when recipe developing so I can fiddle with it a bit) and we ate the leftovers the next day topped with vegan parmesan and baked in the oven for 20 minutes until everything was piping hot again. These braised lentils are destined to be a firm family favourite – both at home and at sea!
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