Thursday, October 27, 2011

Green Lentils with Ground Beef



Beans are not only protein that's good for you; they can also be real comfort food, and this is one of mine.
My mom used to make this dish for us, and at that time I did not know what comfort food was, but now that I cook this for myself and my family, it comforts me by reminding me of my mom and my childhood, and by filling me up...


Ingredients: (Serves 6-8)

  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6-7 oz (180-200 gr) ground beef (preferably 80/20)
  • 1 small onion, diced + 1 small onion, sliced into rings
  • 2 cups dried green lentils, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
  • 3 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups hot water, plus more if necessary

Directions: 

  • Heat vegetable oil in the pot. Add diced onion and ground beef. Breaking up the ground beef and mixing it with onion, saute over medium-high heat until onion is translucent and ground beef is no longer pink.
  • Add the tomato paste and 1 cup hot water; mix lightly to dissolve the paste in water.
  • Add the lentils, salt, pepper, the onion rings (these give extra flavor) and the rest of the hot water, and stir to mix.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat (to medium-low or to low, depending on the size of the burner). Simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are soft to the bite. Check the stew frequently and add more hot water along the way, if necessary, to prevent it from drying.

Additional points:

  • This lentil stew should have a consistency that's kind of thicker than most vegetable stews, it looks more like a hearty sauce, but it should never ever be dry.
  • Beans may usually take hours to cook until tender. That's why I always cook this kind of stews in a pressure cooker. It obviously reduces the necessary water amount and cooking time considerably, but these vary from model to model. I use a primitive model which still works for me after 15 years. Mine cooks this dish with 3 1/2 to 4 cups water, in about 35 minutes. A newer, more modern version would probably take much less time.

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