What I Make When I Don’t Want To Think

December 29, 2009


Last week was CIK (that would be Crazy In the Kitchen).  This week is CIK².  I have a cake to make tomorrow, an event on Thursday, and we are hosting our supper club on Saturday.  Add into the mix that we are going away New Year’s Eve and Day and I’m a little frantic.  When my kitchen is this busy, I get easily overwhelmed by such simple decisions as what to make for a weeknight dinner.  And when I find myself in that place, I often turn to this dish.  For me, it’s a no-brainer – healthy, easy, tasty, and no fussy ingredients.

My mom made this for me many years ago, just after I got my own apartment and started cooking for myself.  I loved everything about it and asked her for the recipe.  I don’t know where she got it but she wrote it out for me on a piece of paper in her script, familiar from so many letters addressed to me over the years.  These days, I would like to think she would email it to me or send me the link.  Or at the very least photocopy it.  But I’m glad I have it in her “looks like a lefty” writing (she is not a lefty).

Over the 23 years that I have been a vegetarian (19 of those without fish), I have had many things like this dish.  Look at the ingredient list and it may not seem all that special – it’s basically a bean stew.  I have made countless things like it.  Of all of them, I like this one the best.  Lentils and chickpeas are some of my very favorite things in the world but I’m guessing it’s the caraway seeds and the healthy dose of coriander that makes it taste to special to me.  And the squeeze of lemon at the end just makes the whole thing pop.  I haven’t messed with it too much, but I’m sure that you could add cubed new potatoes or sliced cabbage to this dish to make it even more hearty.  You can serve it to almost anyone seeing as it is gluten-free and vegan.


Chickpea, Lentil, and Vegetable Stew
Adapted from Bon Appétit (most likely)
Serves 4

I served this with brown rice but it is also good with white rice (I would use basmati) and also with steamed quinoa.  If you are going to make this ahead of time, wait to add the spinach until you reheat it so it retains the lovely green color.

Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. caraway seeds
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup dried lentils
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick
1 cup frozen lima beans or edamame
½ cup chopped parsley
10 oz. fresh baby spinach
lemon wedges

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom and then add the onions.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic.  Cook another 3 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and all the spices; stir 1 minute.  Stir in broth, water, and lentils.  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils are almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Add chickpeas, carrots, lima beans, and half the parsley.  Cover; simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.  (Can be made one day ahead.  Cover and chill.  Bring to a simmer before continuing.  Refrigerate remaining parsley for garnish.)

Stir spinach into stew in batches until wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls with rice.  Garnish each bowl with remaining parsley and serve with lemon wedges.


  1. So many of the quick pantry meals I make are very similar to this stew. Perfect and hearty and a nice respite from all of that baking!

    Comment by kickpleat — December 29, 2009 @ 11:48 pm

  2. I’m not a vegetarian, but this sounds like my kind of food!

    Comment by Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. — December 29, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

  3. I’m so in the mood for this kind of food right now. I guess after all of the fancy and sugar laden stuff I need something real and satisfying AND healthy!

    Comment by Amy from She Wears Many Hats — December 30, 2009 @ 12:01 am

  4. ahhhh such a relief from the heavy food of the holiday. Sounds perfect, and so special coming from your mom.

    Comment by Sara — December 30, 2009 @ 12:33 am

  5. any recommendation on the type of lentil?
    love the site.. I’m addicted

    Comment by catherine — December 30, 2009 @ 1:43 am

  6. Looks delish.
    I made lentil soup today, I feel healthier already!

    Comment by Stacey Snacks — December 30, 2009 @ 2:01 am

  7. Oh yes. Let the January healthful posts begin. This looks delicious!

    I know what you mean about being overwhelmed with weeknight dinners.

    Comment by The Leftoverist — December 30, 2009 @ 6:36 am

  8. Bookmarking this one. I could eat this every day:) Happy New Year! I hope 2010 is filled with happiness, good health, and joy for you and your family.

    Comment by Maria — December 30, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

  9. Yum, this looks fabulous! It really puts me to shame with my go-to for hectic days being a grilled cheese sandwich!

    Comment by aubrey — December 30, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

  10. Amazing… I just made a big batch of soup last night, wish I had seen your post before cooking mine. I added some shredded chicken to mine, but was searching for a full-veggie variation – I think lentils and chickpeas are definitely the way to go…

    I will be making this one next week.

    thanks, and Happy New Year!

    Comment by SallyBR — December 30, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  11. I am going to try this next week, after the chaos dissipates! Thank you AGAIN. Happy, happy new year to you and all that you love!

    Comment by Vivian — December 30, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

  12. This is just our kind of food. I can’t wait to try it! It does look like lots of the bean soups/stews that we make, but I am eager to taste the caraway and coriander in it. Looks like another staple weeknight dinner (right next to the others I have from your website). You have a whole section in my three ring binder, Dana. Thanks again:)

    Comment by Mara — December 30, 2009 @ 9:04 pm

  13. This is exactly what I’m craving after several days of buttery foods and too much dessert! Happy New Year, Dana!

    Comment by lisaiscooking — January 1, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

  14. Your photos are making me so hungry! I always have these ingredients on hand, so am adding this to my to-do list for my next busy night.

    Comment by fresh365 — January 3, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

  15. OMG, this looks delicious! Definitely a keeper, especially since I usually have all these ingredients around.

    Comment by Darya — January 8, 2010 @ 5:55 am

  16. […] Chickpea, Lentil, and Vegetable Stew <<What Dana Treat makes when she doesn’t want to think. But I’m thinking about making this recipe now! (Dana Treat) […]

    Pingback by For The Love of Food | Healthy Eating Tips - Upgrade Your Healthstyle | Summer Tomato — January 8, 2010 @ 8:41 am

  17. This looks perfect after all the excesses of Christmas!

    Comment by Marisa — January 13, 2010 @ 3:43 pm

  18. That looks nice and tasty and healthy!

    Comment by Kevin — January 19, 2010 @ 2:41 am

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