Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lentil Stew of Umbria

Sometime the weather is cool and you just want an easy stew for dinner. It was one of those days around here today so that is what we had for dinner tonight an easy lentil stew and salad.

This lentil stew is something that is made in Umbria using green-brown lentils that are grown in the fields of Castelluccio. The most similar lentil we have in the US is the French Lentil De Puy. Traditional green lentils will also work, but the texture will be less toothsome. Some Italian markets carry the Castelluccio lentils. Here is a link if you are interested in learning more about them on Mario’s site.

When I made the omni version of this dish I typically used sweet Italian sausage, but I have used hot Italian sausage as well. To mimic the combination I added a little hot crushed pepper and a tiny bit of fennel seeds. This stew does not need to be made with wine, but it does add to the aroma of the final dish.

This is a good winter stew. It is thick and comforting, like a big warm hug in a bowl. Here is the lentil stew recipe.

Lentil Stew of Umbria
Serves 6


5 stalks of celery, finely diced (approximately 2 cups), 1/4th reserved
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced (allow to stand 10 minutes so allicin can develop)
½ cup water
2 bay leaves
14 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, solids and liquids separated
4 cups water
1 cup dry white wine or water (I used pinto grigio)
1 pound of green or brown lentils
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
2 sweet Italian seitan sausages, sliced thinly
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar to finish the dish (1 teaspoon per serving)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced


Water sauté ¾ of the diced celery (remainder reserved for later in the recipe), red onion, and garlic until tender. Add the bay leaves, canned tomato liquid, water, wine, lentils, crushed red pepper flakes and fennel seeds. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook covered (checking occasionally to make certain the pan is not getting to dry). You want to final dish to be fairly dry, but not so dry it sticks to the bottom of the pot. Taste the beans for tenderness after 30 minutes. You may need to add liquid at this time. When the lentils are beginning to get tender but still need 15 minutes of cooking time add the reserved diced tomato solids, celery and seitan sausages. Cook until the lentils are tender. Taste the dish for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.

To serve this stew finish the dish with a little white wine vinegar drizzled over the top. The acid from the vinegar will brighten and lift the flavors. You can also top with freshly minced parsley but this is optional

Nutritional Information (including optional parsley):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 399.92
Calories From Fat (3%) - 13.26

Total Fat - 1.5g
Saturated Fat - 0.2g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 265.05mg
Potassium - 997.69mg
Total Carbohydrates - 59.86g
Fiber - 25.86g
Sugar - 4.06g
Protein - 30.77g


This stew has the comfort of a long cooking dish but the freshness of lightly cooked diced tomato, celery and parsley garnish. Pinot grigio adds a nice aroma to the stew. Wine vinegar adds a nice tang. My husband and I both enjoyed this lentil dish with its nice depth of flavor. It tastes as though it was more work than is involved.

Each serving of this stew contains 540IU of vitamin A, 120mg of calcium, 7.5mg of iron, 380mcg of folate, 40mcg of vitamin K, 400mg of phosphorus, 110mg of magnesium, 3.9mg of zinc, and 11.5mcg of selenium. This stew also contains 30grams of protein and over 25 grams of fiber.

Unrelated note:

Next I will be posting the quick and easy salad dressing I made tonight. It was something that I tossed together that we both loved. We will definitely be making this dressing again so I want to share it with all of you.


  1. As always - YUM. I just bought some red lentil today to try your red lentil and tomato soup.

  2. Heather,

    Funny that you mentioned the red lentil and tomato soup. That was what my husband wanted me to make tonight but I wanted something different so this was the compromise. He got lentils and I got different. ;)


  3. I tend to use green or brown lentils almost exclusively in dal, but this sounds delightful, too. Time to branch out!

  4. Ricki,

    This is a recipe from my omni archives. I had forgotten how much I liked it until yesterday. BTW, this improves with time like most stews. We had the leftovers today and they were better than yesterday.


  5. I love lentils, and that stew sounds like a great salad topper! I will have to add it to my list of things to make next weekend.


  6. Courtney,

    I need to remember to put things like this over salad. It always sounds like such a great healthy idea when you mention it. Maybe the concept will sink into my old brain soon. Thanks for mentioning it again. :)


  7. This lentil stew looks and sounds really good. I love quick and easy recipe like this. I have lentils in my cupboard, I'll give it a try very soon:)

  8. Oraphan,

    This dish is different from most lentil dishes I make. It is a little acidic from the vinegar but also has a nice background flavor from the fennel and wine, with just a hint of heat. I haven't made this one in years but am happy I decided to make it vegan. We enjoyed it, hope you do too.



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