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recipe: lentejas

recipe, Spain, lentejas

A big bowl of lentil stew makes any winter day warm & cozy… delicious even while temps in Sevilla reach 23ºC in mid-February! Every Spaniard grows up with their family’s version of this classic dish, & Rafa finally let me have a go at making this crowdpleaser. Lots of spices along with onions, carrots & potatoes give fantastic flavor to a basic kitchen staple: the lentil. One taste & this may become your favorite stew, regardless of the season.

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 chorizo, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T paprika (pimentón dulce)
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1.5 c lentils pardina, rinsed (300 g)
  • 1/2 c tomato purée (or 1 large tomato, chopped)
  • 4 c beef stock or water (1 L) + more as needed
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled & chascadas
  • extra virgen olive oil, as needed

Step 1: Give everything a head start. Sauté garlic & bay leaves in abundant olive oil on medium heat for one minute. Add onions & cook until just transparent, about 4-5 minutes. Next add carrot & sauté for 2 more minutes. Chorizo comes last & just before completely cooked through, add all remaining spices & sauté for 1 additional minute. This part comes together quickly, so be sure to have all ingredients prepped & ready to add.

recipe, Spain, lentejas

Step 2: Let’s talk lentils. Spain has three main varieties grown & used locally: castellana, verdina & pardina. While the choice of lentil is up to you —as long as it’s not a quick-cooking variety like yellow or red— pardina (brown) works best because this variety needs no soaking overnight & keeps its skin when cooked. The castellana variety is larger, takes longer to cook & requires soaking in water for a few hours; verdinas have a mottled, greenish hue & also require a brief soak. If you can’t find pardina, total time for this recipe is 45-55 minutes… find a lentil variety with a similar cook time & you’re good to go.

recipe, Spain, lentejas
Top pic shows the pardina variety, next is castellana & last is verdina. The first two varieties are easy to tell apart when compared side by side.

Add lentils & cook for 2 minutes. Next add fresh tomatoes (or purée) & mix well. Cook only for a short time; don’t let the mixture get too dry. Most folks make a simple version of this recipe with adding just water next, but I love the richness of beef broth. Either is perfectly fine, but be sure to add salt at this step if using only water. Add broth or water, stir, cover & bring to a boil. Then lower heat to a high simmer —some bubbles are good but not too many— and cook for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally.

recipe, Spain, lentejas

Step 3: Thicken things up. Peel your potatoes & get ready to chascar. Often used to describe the sound of a twig or branch snapping in two, a chasquido is also that sound of breaking —not slicing— a potato. *Crack!* Key for this recipe, insert your knife partially into the potato, use it as a lever & break off a chunk. Takes a bit of practice to get all pieces roughly the same size, but the advantage of “chascar-ing” is the release of all that potato starch. Your knife will be covered in it, & your stew will thicken nicely thanks to this technique:

recipe, Spain, lentejas, chascar
Bet they never taught the verb chascar in your Spanish class! Anyone know of a recipe from another country that uses this technique?

After Step 2 is complete, add those starchy potatoes to the pot & cook for an additional 25 minutes at a low simmer.

recipe, Spain, lentejas

Step 4: Adjust. Taste for salt… if your beef broth had salt, you probably won’t need to add any extra. Never hurts to check though. Are the lentils still slightly undercooked? Add a touch more water & continue to cook at low heat. Check every 5-7 minutes for doneness. The final result should look something like this yummy pot of goodness:

recipe, Spain, lentejas

Variations on a theme: Lentils may be served with a touch of vinegar for a hit of acid, or even with a guindilla… similar to a mini banana pepper cured in vinegar. Some folks add rib tips for a meatier version. Like garlic? Go crazy. Like it spicy? Add some cayenne, or even better with Tabasco! The amount of liquid can also vary, from thick to a more soupy consistency. You do you. The best part of lentil stew is how varied it can be & how you can make it your own. Lentils also freeze well, so make a double batch for a rainy day & enjoy a bit of home cooking from Spain. ¡Que aproveche!

recipe, Spain, lentejas

4 thoughts on “recipe: lentejas”

  1. We used vegetable broth because our daughter-in-law is a vegetarian. It was delicious.
    We left out the chorizo, but added some cooked slices on the side for those who wanted to add it to their lentils. It worked well. A good, hearty, amazingly delicious dish. Very high In protein and a healthy alternative to chicken soup!

    1. Thanks for letting me know how the vegetarian version turned out… seems like a perfect way satisfy everyone! Lentils are so easy, so rich & so filling that we always have some on hand. I’ll be adding more Spanish recipes in the near future that you might enjoy. Un saludo!

  2. Hello, Robert! Thank you for your delicious recipe and the clear directions. Could you please send your email address so I can forward some info on another topic? Thank you! Allison Zack Easter tour of Spain 2019 (the tour where we chased Easter floats in the rain!)

    1. Hi, Allison! Thanks for the comment… Semana Santa has been cancelled for two years in a row, so that was the last time anyone saw those floats in the street. So sad but absolutely necessary. I’ll send you an email with my contact info. Hope you are well!

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