One skillet lentil and fennel stew

I’m usually someone who firmly believes in never lying to children. So what do you do when you get the jar of lentils out of the cupboard and the toddler, who has been very picky about what he eats of late, claps his hands and says, “Yay! Beans!?” You smile and say, “Yes, we’re having beans for dinner,” of course. (Then, if your husband looks at you ashamedly, you amend it to, “Yes, uhm…lentil beans.”)

This recipe, adapted from the Wildwood cookbook, will please even the pickiest of eaters. Who can resist fennel and bacon? No, not even the picky toddler.

Feeds 4 people as a main dish

1 cup dried green lentils

4-6 slice of bacon, diced
2 carrots, diced or sliced
1 bulb fennel
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp. salt

2 cups stock (I used turkey.)
1 tsp. fresh thyme
pepper

  1. Put the lentils in a bowl and fill with warm water. Allow to soak for one hour.
  2. Dice your vegetables. To prepare the fennel, trim the bulb top, bottom, and any spots. Halve and slice thinly.
  3. In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown the bacon. (Watch out, it will probably spit at you.)
  4. Reserve the bacon drippings in the pan and remove the bacon with a slotted spoon.
  5. To the hot drippings (now over medium), add the carrots, fennel, onion and salt. Sauté for about ten minutes.
  6. Stir in your stock, thyme, and pepper. Add soaked and drained lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste your lentils to test for doneness.
  7. Add your bacon and enjoy.

I served this over some chopped, fresh spinach. Others ate it without anything green.

Other fennel recipes:

Goat, Sheep, and Pig

A couple weeks ago, we purchased some goat meat at the Ballard Farmer’s Market and turned it into an improvised goat meat stew roughly adapting a lamb and lentil soup recipe.  According to Alice Waters quince also pairs nicely with lamb meat, so I threw it in.  The meat was good, a little tough and surprisingly mild – next time I will be sure to select a recipe which adds a richer flavor to the meat.  That may prove to be a while though!  I’ve recently placed an order for half a pig (coming in December) raised by Rolling Bay Farm (can’t get much more local than around the block).  Additionally a co-worker is having a lamb butchered and I will be lucky enough to get quarter!  (All this meat means I’ll finally try my hand at making sausages…)

Goat Stew

2 tbls. olive oil
1 lb goat
1 onion
4 carrots (in large pieces)
1 quince (quartered and cored, peel on)
4 cloves garlic, thick slices
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
mint (lots – to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup brandy
1 1/4 cups lentils
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup yogurt strained (5-8 hours in refrigerator through cheese cloth)

Start the carrots and quince in a small pan of water mixed with honey.  Simmer until needed.

Heat the oil over high in a deep pan and cook the goat until browned.  Remove the meat and set aside.  Add the garlic, onion, half the mint and the other seasonings to the pot.  Cook until onion softens and then add brandy.  Cook for a couple minutes then add lentils and stock.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until the lentils are soft (about 20 minutes).  Partially blend the soup, return the meat and add the strained vegetables.  Heat for 5 minutes.  Serve with yogurt and remaining mint.

(Sadly the lentils were not local.)

Given how strong (and delicious) the odors were during cooking I expected a rich, deeply flavored dish.  However, the reality was a mild but addictive flavor which fell a little flat against the goat meat.  The quince was good, but I  overcooked it so it largely fell apart.  Individual hunks were reminiscent of pear, but more astringent.  The winner from this experiment was actually the strained yogurt!  I can’t wait to find other dishes to serve it with.

Here’s a view of the inside of the quince if anyone is curious (sorry for the quality of image).

Report from the Other Coast: Part III

Market 3: Summit, NJ

Well, I survived the heat of the city and returned to visit family in New Jersey, where I was greeted with a delicious and peaceful meal. While I didn’t get to visit the Summit Farmers’ Market, I was treated to some of its delicious produce. They were stocked with fresh greens, beans, melons, tomatoes, and beautiful flowers.

You, too, can enjoy this meal, which included a superb lentil preparation. (We suggest you add a little crisp bacon to the lentils after stewing.)

Something else newsworthy? After months of only dreaming, I tasted my first corn this summer! Thanks, Summit!