These Creamy Lentils Spiced with Ancho chiles are easy to put together and perfect to eat with a grain like rice or quinoa, or dip a crusty bread into. It makes for the perfect, healthy, weeknight dinner and it has a gorgeous and appetizing red hue. Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, can be nut-free and oil-free.
These lentils are the perfect recipe if you're looking for a swift vegan weeknight dinner that is healthy and delicious and bound to be loved by one and all.
What makes these lentils stand apart from whatever old lentil recipe you've been cooking is a delicious paste of tomatoes, ancho and cumin that gets stirred into it toward the end. It adds a huge pop of flavor that takes this dish from delicious to sublime.
I used French puy lentils for the recipe, because they cook fast and easily, but brown lentils, which also cook fast, would work just as well. You don't need to pre-soak, and the lentils take just about 20 minutes, or less, to cook to tenderness.
One of the reasons I love these lentils so much is they are really hearty and make a filling, satisfying meal. Serve with rice or with a crusty bread, you can't go wrong.
Creamy Lentils with Ancho Chilies
- 1 cup French puy lentils or brown lentils
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp raw cashews
- Salt and black pepper to taste
For ancho paste:
- 1 dry ancho chili pepper
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp cumin seeds (lightly roasted)
- To make the ancho paste, roast the ancho chile pepper in a cast-iron or other skillet, pressing down with a spatula. Roast each side for a couple of minutes, then remove to a blender along with the tomato paste and the roasted cumin seeds. Blend with enough water to make a thick, smooth paste and set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat the oil and add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Season with salt and black pepper and cook 5 minutes or until the onions are soft. For an oil-free version, water-saute the veggies, or saute in vegetable stock.
- Once the onions are soft, dd the lentils and 3 cups water. Stir well, bring to a boil, cover and cook 15 minutes or until the lentils are perfectly tender but not mushy. Add more water if the mixture dries up.
- Stir in the ancho paste and add salt to taste. Let the stew cook another five minutes for flavors to merge.
- Blend the cashews with ¼ cup water and drizzle over the lentils. If you'd like a nut-free version, use coconut milk instead.
- Garnish with parsley, if you wish, and serve hot or at room temperature.
More vegan stews to try from the archives:
If you've wondered where I have been these last couple of weeks, I've been traveling a little and I've been sick a lot, nursing a persistent bug that had me down and out of circulation -- mostly.
Over Spring break, Desi, Jay and I decided to do something I'd been wanting to do for a long time-- visit the lighthouses of New Jersey. We had a blast, climbing up and down hundreds of narrow, winding steps, looking at breathtaking views, talking to some very interesting people and eating some very interesting -- and delicious -- vegan food.
Unfortunately, about halfway through the trip, I also got very sick, which means Desi had to do most of the driving while I rode shotgun in a medicated stupor as we drove from one lighthouse to the next. On the way we had plenty to look at, from the beautiful Victorians of Cape May to the humongous McMansions of Deal that had us going, who needs a house this big?
I made up a collage of the lighthouses we visited, so you could share the beauty. If you love lighthouses, this is a pilgrimage definitely worth making. There's even a New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge that happens in October, when lighthouse fanatics race to see all eleven lighthouses over a two-day period. Our trip was a little more leisurely, but it was definitely amazing.