Potaje de Lentejas – Lentil Stew

Another “Plato de Cuchara” or spoon dish – we like our pulses here in Spain.  Many of these dishes were traditional as you could feed large families with few ingredients which were not costly.  Meats are typically added at the end (usually pork products) so the beauty is that they can be vegetarian dishes too, if you prefer.

Lentils are great, as apart from being cheap, they cook fairly quickly and only need rinsing but not presoaking.

For four people as a main dish or six as a starter you´ll need

  • About 500g of lentils – we have the flat green ones here
  • Water to cover
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • Half each of a red and green pepper, chopped into bite sized chunks
  • Two tomatoes cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A couple of carrots peeled and finely diced
  • A stick of celery plus the leaves (if it has leaves).  Finely dice the celery but not the leaves.
  • 4 or 5 whole fat cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into small cubes (keep these in a bowl of water separately)
  • Sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary if you have it
  • ¼ teaspoon each of pimentón and paprika
  • Salt to taste (at end of cooking)
  • Optional – a couple of chorizo and/or morcilla or your favourite sausages

Rinse the lentils then add all the vegetables and spices apart from the salt to a large cooking pot.  Cover well with water, add the oil and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat slightly but don´t let them come off the boil while cooking as this will make the lentils hard. They will probably take about 45 minutes or so.

When the lentils are soft, add the potato and meats (if using) and continue cooking until the potatoes are cooked. Remove the bay leaf and celery leaves and add salt (and pepper too if you like) to taste and you´re ready to serve. Slice the sausages into smaller pieces before serving. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon over the top really lifts the flavour, but that´s just the way I like it!

Tastes even better the next day.

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