Italian Red Lentil & Tomato Stew, with Lemon and Thyme Chicken:
This is quite versatile inasmuch as the same flavour combos from the chicken can be transposed to white fishes (such as sea bass, cod and sea bream) and mushrooms, for variation on your source of protein. And you can bulk out the stew with things like kale, any type of broccoli, romanesco and asparagus.
You can either get ready to cook red lentils, soak them over night, or first thing in the morning. It’s not a big task and worth doing rather than paying extra for strait to pan stuff.
You can also choose to go for less fat with chicken breast, or more flavour with chicken leg and thigh. You can also choose to mix in your protein or store it on top.
Keep some basil back, and make sure you’ve got some parmesan knocking about as it makes the difference to garnish with a fuck tonne of it at the end.
This is also a good one for knife skills – use that swanky Japanese knife of yours and cut the lemons as fine as you can, in whole slice… They are edible and take on loads of flavour when cooked!
Cooking hack: if you haven’t got time to chop your garlic, onion and celery, use the pulse on a food processor to roughly chop it. It’s going in a stew. No one cares and it will save you 5-10 mins!
- 100g chicken breast/150g chicken thigh & leg per portion. This recipe is for 14 with thigh and leg: 2.1kg. If fish 150g per portion. If mushrooms, go by instinct/sight as they all behave differently when cooked.
- 1kg of red lentils (un-soaked). Soak in 2ltr of water. Red lentils don’t need so much time, and if you cook the stew for longer if you have only soaked them for a few hours, you’ll be fine.
- 1kg of tomatoes. Cherries best. Mixed colours even better! Half cherries / quarter normal / rough dice big ones.
- 500g of tinned chopped tomato
- Tomato puree – though if you are trying to go easy on sugars you can omit this.
- 1 large head of garlic for stew, diced. 1 large head of garlic crushed with skin on by flat of knife, for chicken.
- 3 large supermarket bags of basil, or equivalent. Chopped.
- 1 – 1.5 ltrs of good, GF veg or chicken stock.
- 500 – 1kg of spinach depending on what variant you’re doing.
- 500g of kale, if wanted
- 1 head of celery.
- 8 bay leaves, 24 if fish.
- 4 large lemons. Sliced very thinly.
- Fresh thyme (though can use dried), around 4 tablespoons worth, which should be a supermarket bags worth. If using dried thyme, halve amounts.
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- 300ml white wine (400ml if having to do in 2 batches/in 2 roasting trays)
- Alternate – 1kg of the above mentioned veg, i.e. broccoli etc.
Chicken / fish / Broccoli (do first):
- If chicken breast – in roasting dish, put a good 4 tablespoons of olive oil, wine, 2 tbl spoon of thyme, crushed garlic and chicken. Season well and then massage all together. Seal tight with foil. Place in oven at 170cm for 30-45 minutes (cut one open and check after 30m)…
- If chicken leg and thigh – in roasting dish place wine, olive oil, 1 table thyme, crushed garlic and lemon in roasting pan. Place chine leg and thigh over – without mixing in, to keep skin dry – then season skin well, and sprinkle table spoon of thyme over skin. Place in oven without foil for 30-45 (cut one open and check after 30m).
- If fish – same process as 1. However omit garlic and replace thyme with bay leaves. Also, cook for 15-25 mins, check after 15.
- For Broccoli same as 1. However, use only about 100ml of wine and roast without foil for 20-30 mins. Check after 20.
- Mushrooms: fry off in olive oil with garlic heated in it on a high heat. Add 200ml wine (use sherry for more flavour) and thyme. Season. Omit lemon. Cook in butter if more flavour wanted…. Cook this while stew is simmering.
- Coat deep saucepan in 2 ml of olive oil, put on low heat and sweat garlic, onion and celery for about 10 mins.
- Bring up to a medium heat and add in fresh tomatoes. 1 packet of Chopped basil, don’t waste stalks, and the other 2 tablespoons of thyme, don’t use stalks. Cook for 10 mins.
- Add chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and lentil. Season at this point. Go under, as you will season to taste at end. Cook for 10 mins then add in at least half the stock. Cook for further 10 mins adding stock when needed. Season to taste.
- Add another pack of basil, the spinach, and any other veg you want to wilt, mix in and simmer for 10.
- Place chicken, fish or broccoli on top of stew
- Grate a liberal amount of parmasan and sprinkle chopped basil on top
- If you want to mix the meat, fish, broccoli mushrooms, you can. May be easier to freeze. Don’t freeze fish, broccoli or mushrooms separate