This hearty stew of Red Wine Braised Lentils with Spinach is chock-full of nutrients and rich, earthy flavor. Vegan comfort food at its finest!
Earlier this year I took a vegan cooking class and this recipe from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers was included in the afternoon’s lineup. What a hit! We’re not vegan or vegetarian, but this dish is so packed with flavor and texture it’s perfect when ready to take a break from meat. It calls for french green lentils which have a deeper earthy flavor than the traditional brown. You can certainly use brown if you prefer, and black beluga lentils would work well too.
The stew starts with a mirepoix base of onion, celery, and carrot. I slightly increased the amounts called for in the original recipe and upped the garlic quite a bit as well. A dollop of tomato paste enriches the flavor and should be cooked for a minute or so with the mirepoix and garlic before the liquids and lentils join the party.
Sweet, caramelized pearl onions add a perfect pop of flavor to balance the robustness of the lentils and red wine. Baby spinach wilts in once the lentils are tender. Sturdier greens like kale or swiss chard can also be used, just cook a little longer until softened.
Grab a ladle and toast up your favorite crusty bread to soak up all that deliciousness. Enjoy!
- ¾ cup lentils, rinsed (French green, black beluga, or brown)
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ cup onion, diced
- ½ cup celery, diced
- ½ cup carrot, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups dry red wine
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black ground pepper
- 1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
- 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
- Crusty bread for serving, plus 1 halved garlic clove and olive oil to brush on bread
Parboil the lentils 5 minutes and drain.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Sauté 5 minutes until lightly browned. Add garlic and tomato paste. Cook 1-2 minutes more, stirring frequently. Next, stir in wine, water, mustard, lentils, sea salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer covered with tilted lid about 35 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add pearl onions and season with salt and pepper. Sauté 5-7 minutes until tender and caramelized, stirring frequently. Add a splash of wine or vegetable broth to deglaze the pan. Once lentils are tender, add the pearl onions. Add the spinach a couple handfuls at a time allowing each addition to wilt before adding the next.
Preheat broiler. Rub bread slices with garlic clove and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and broil a couple minutes until slightly charred. Serve lentils in bowls with toasted bread.
*Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers