After weeks of mild temperatures in the 50s and 60s, Winter has limped in, tail between its legs, proffering a day of sleet and a dusting of snow. And while temperatures are still slightly above freezing, and this long-awaited snow has no hope of accumulating, I’m determined to embrace Winter’s feeble attempt attempt.
It’s my day off, and I’m cozily ensconced in my warm apartment, cat snoozing on the chair beside me. I’m dreaming of stew.
The only root vegetables on my plate as a child were the “safe” ones: potatoes, carrots and onions. I had never even tasted a parsnip or rutabaga until I was in my mid-twenties and just beginning culinary school. I’d heard so many people denounce these more “rustic” roots, blaming them for many torturous meals inflicted in their youth. I soon learned, however, that properly cooked, the humble parsnip, rutabaga and so many other misunderstood roots should no longer be doomed to the depths of an 18th century French torture chamber. They belong in the spotlight, as unassuming sides or even *gasp* as a main course that will delight anyone.
Warm and comforting, this lentil stew is chock-full of seasonally appropriate root vegetables, hearty lentils and just the right amount of wilted kale. It’s filling, without being heavy. Easily made vegetarian, it’s a nutritional powerhouse: fresh vegetables, high fiber kale, and protein rich lentils. Simply put, it’s perfect for a wet, winter’s day. Even if it is the first wintery day all season. And sure to turn anyone root vegetable adverse into a root vegetable fan.
Roasted Root Vegetable Stew with Red Kale
Adapted from With Style and Grace
1 medium yam, peeled and diced small
1 rutabaga, peeled and diced small
2 parsnips, peeled and diced small
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
1 leek, green end removed, washed and sliced in 1 inch sections
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 cup dried lentils, picked through
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 squeeze fresh lemon, to taste
2 cups red kale leaves, center stalks removed and cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
Shaved Parmesan, to top (optional, but really, trust me here)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Combine the yam, rutabaga, parsnips, and carrot on a large baking sheet. Top with two Tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Roast at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Half way through the roasting, add the leeks and flip the root vegetables over to ensure even browning. After roasting, remove them from the oven and set aside.
Heat the remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large pot. Add the garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the garlic is soft, making sure not to brown the garlic. Add the roasted vegetables and the tomato paste. Stir to combine and cook 2 minutes more.
Add the chicken or vegetable stock, water, lentils, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked.
Squeeze in some lemon juice, to taste, and add more salt or pepper if needed.
Add the red kale leaves and allow them to wilt slightly in the stew. Top with shaved Parmesan and enjoy hot!