Roasted Root Vegetable & Red Lentil Stew
One of my many favorite things about fall is the abundance of seasonal root vegetables. Aside from being loaded with vitamins like A & C, minerals including magnesium & phosphorus, and digestion-boosting soluble & insoluble fiber, root vegetables are also incredibly grounding and warming to the system - which I think we can agree we all need more of as the weather cools down.
I believe that roasting these vegetables is the best way to make their flavors truly shine. When roasted, the sugars in root vegetables start to caramelize & they develop a robust sweetness that really enhances their flavor.
This stew makes the perfect accompaniment to a cold, fall evening. Between the red lentils, warm spices & roasted root veggies - this stew is nourishing on so many levels. I hope you enjoy it xx
Roasted Root Vegetable & Red Lentil Stew
yields ~6 servings
3 medium carrots
1 head fennel
3 small-medium beets
1 large parsnip (or sub more carrot)
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
3 tablespoons avocado oil (or other high-heat oil)
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 shallot (or small onion), diced
1 tablespoon minced ginger (~1-in fresh ginger)*
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium (or 3 small) carrots
1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed
1 32-oz. carton vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1-inch piece of kombu (optional)*
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 - 1 cup water, reserved 2 cups chopped greens (I used beet greens reserved from the roasted beets, but you can use kale, chard, spinach, etc.)
salt and pepper
optional garnishes: lemon, pumpkin seeds, chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 400F.
Chop the carrots, fennel, beets & parsnip into even bite-sized chunks (about 1-in thick). You can peel them if you like, but I like to leave the skin on for the added nutrients (just give them a good scrub!) Spread the carrots, parsnip & fennel evenly on one sheet tray, and the beets out on a second (the color bleeds onto the other vegetables so I like to keep them separate - if you don't mind, you can just mix everything together).
Divide the oil, onion powder, salt (a good pinch!) & pepper evenly between the two sheet trays and toss vegetables to coat. Make sure they're not overcrowding the pan, as this will cause the vegetables to steam rather than roast - and we want that rich, roasted, caramelization!
Roast the vegetables for about 35-40 minutes, or until they are fork-tender and some browning has occurred. Toss them halfway through for even cooking. Roasting time may vary according to the sensitivity of your oven, so keep an eye on them.
Meanwhile, heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add in the oil, then the shallot (or onion), and saute for two minutes to soften. Slice the remaining carrots in half long ways, and then across into half moons. Add them in to the pot with the garlic & ginger. Let everything cook together for five minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Next, add in the rinsed lentils, vegetable stock, bay leaf & kombu if using. You will also want to add in about 1/2 cup of water at this point. Bring everything up to a simmer. Once simmering, cover the pot and lower the heat to medium-low, maintaining a gentle simmer. Cook for about twenty minutes or so, until the lentils soften and begin to break apart. You may need to add some extra water as the lentils cook. You want the consistency to be stew-like & thick - but not too thick. Stir the lentils occasionally as they cook to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
After twenty minutes, add in the turmeric and onion powder and season with salt and pepper. Taste before adding in the salt, because depending on the type of vegetable stock you used, you may not need to add that much more salt. Add in about half of the roasted vegetables** and the chopped greens, and cook for another ten minutes.
After ten minutes, taste your stew and adjust seasonings if necessary. I like to serve this warm, topped with some of the remaining roasted vegetables, pumpkin seeds for crunch and a squeeze of lemon. Chopped parsley would also be delicious on here.
*If you don't have fresh ginger or garlic, you can use about 1/2 tsp each of powdered. Add them in when you add the rest of the spices to the dish.
*Kombu is a type of seaweed. It adds minerals and enhances the flavor of the stew, however it is optional. You can find it online or at a local natural health food store.
**I left the beets out of the stew & added them on top when I served the stew. You can add them in at this point if you'd like, just know that it will change the color of the stew to a light pink.