Weeknight Greek-Style Lentil Stew

Many evenings I want to talk myself out of cooking and order in. Then I realize there’s usually a bunch of food in my fridge, freezer and pantry that even if it doesn’t make sense, I’ll make it make sense. Plus to be honest, it’s a slow time of year for me real estate wise, the spring season is picking up and I have a couple of deals going, but that payday is still a way’s away. 

Lentils are one of the most versatile pantry staples you can keep on hand. They are a cheap and easy source of protein and fiber, and they can take on so many flavors and forms – soups, stews, salads, patties, etc.

This particular stew was just a weeknight meal that came together in about 45 minutes and is great leftover for lunch. Eat it on its own, or carb it up with some nice crusty bread, some grilled pita, serve over polenta, mashed potatoes, pasta, etc. 

Remember, this was a fridge clean out kind of meal. You don’t have to follow my ingredients or quantities – play around on your own.

WEEKNIGHT GREEK-STYLE LENTIL STEW

2 cups dried Lentils, rinsed 
2 links Loukaniko (Greek sausage with orange peel – I like the Old Neighborhood brand)
8 ounces Ground Pork
1 medium to large Sweet Onion
4-5 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup chopped Carrots
2 cups Strained Tomatoes
2-3 Bay Leaves
2 tablespoons Greek Seasoning
1 tablespoon Oregano
Dash of Celery Salt
Salt and fresh ground Pepper, to taste 
Parsley, for garnish

1 – Boil the lentils separately in lightly salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside. This process takes at least 20 minutes, so you may start next steps.
2 – While the lentils are boiling, using a food processor, pulse the onion and garlic until minced.
3 – On a medium setting, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or small stock pot and add the onion mixture, stirring occasionally.
4 – While the onions are heating, place sausages in the food processor and grind into granules. Add the sausage and pork to the onion mixture. Heat until pork is browned. Add the tomatoes, carrots, and seasonings. Be careful not to over-salt as the mixture will reduce and increase the salinity. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
5 – Add the lentils to the stew. Continue to simmer, about 30 minutes, until the carrots are softened. If the stew feels too thick, you may add a bit of water, up to one cup.
6 – You may serve immediately, or chill and serve at a later date. The stew may be stored in the fridge and re-heated up to one week, or frozen and thawed at a later date, up to 6 months. Garnish with parsley before serving.

Crock Pot Patates Yiahni

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I haven’t written a post in about a month. I did some traveling, celebrated my birthday, and have been a little swamped at work. One thing I have been doing a lot of those is batch cooking on Sundays. In the spirit of my pantry project, I continue to seek out ways to save money. I try not to buy lunch at work anymore, or I will treat myself maybe once a week. Instead, I bring lunch, easily saving me $40 a week. Plus mall food kinda blows if you have it daily.

I’ve done some fun dishes, like butternut squash risotto that I also rework into arancini, and potato soup remains a favorite. In the meantime, with the weather getting colder I’m missing some of the Greek dishes I’ve enjoyed from my mom over the years, like trahana and Patates Yiahni. The latter is a braised potato stew that can be vegan or with meat. Having a few errands to run today, I decided to experiment with making it in a crockpot. 

What is great about much Greek cooking is the simplicity of the ingredients. For the stew I combined some olive oil, two chopped red onions (you can use any onion, red I just had on hand), a couple of sliced garlic cloves, chicken thighs straight from the freezer, four potatoes, a box of Pomi strained tomatoes, two cups of chicken broth, salt, pepper, oregano, and some bay leaves. Everything went straight in the crock pot, set on high for about four hours. That’s it, and I have lunch for most of the week.

   
   
To serve, add a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and you can also eat with some crusty bread, but I like it as is.

Greek Maroulosalata

chef's journal

One of my favorite salads is a simple Greek salad primarily comprised of Romaine lettuce, scallions, and dill. I love it so much more than the traditional Greek salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta.

One of the keys to nailing this salad well is white wine vinegar with the dressing. The vinegar complements the flavors without overpowering, brightening the ingredients.

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It’s simple to prepare, just some cleaning and chopping. It’s a great summer salad, but can be enjoyed year round.

MAROUSALATA
Romaine Lettuce, chopped
Fresh Dill, chopped
Scallions, chopped
Olive Oil
White Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Feta Cheese, optional

Quantities for this salad is up to your personal preferences. I usually use about 1 head of lettuce, 1/2 cup of scallions, 1/4 cup dill, and a 2:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. I am not a huge dressing fan so I lightly dress the greens. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and topped with crumbled feta if so desired.