It was a dark and stormy night.
Actually, it was just a cold and gloomy Friday morning. And I was in the mood to cook.
I was also in the mood to shake things up! I went googling my way around the world wide web in search of something outlandish to do with a bag of red lentils.
Like… string them together to use as garland on our Christmas tree? Get started on a lentil mosaic of A Starry Night? Toss lentils at wine glasses filled with varying levels of water and teach myself to play I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In?
All awesome ideas for sure, I opted for a lentil dish made with dried apricots.
Yes, apricots. I know. I was a tad suspicious too. But since I had dried apricots in my fridge, I decided to give it a go.
Turns out this is an Armenian dish. Turns out I’d never heard of Armenia until I found myself looking at a bunch of lentil recipes made with apricots.
People of Armenia, please don’t be offended by my unawareness of your presence in Asia. I doodled my way through Social Studies. This is why I write a food blog instead of a political science blog, a geography blog or a former republics of the Soviet Union blog.
Oh, and those are Turkish apricots. That’s why they’re brown instead of orange. Again, I hope I have not offended anyone by using Turkish apricots in an Armenian dish. Tomorrow I’m going to put an ad on Craigslist for someone to come and homeschool my children in world history.
So! Dice up an onion, slice up some garlic and chop up your apricots from Turkey. (Or the orange ones from bulk foods.) Saute everything in a few tablespoons of olive oil.
When your vegetables are soft, add in your lentils and a can of diced tomatoes. Muir Glen is has a great line of canned products that do not contain BPA in their liners if you’re feeling BPAranoid like I am.
Add 4 – 5 cups of water (or veggie broth), season with salt, a tsp each of cumin and thyme. It’s going to look super soupy for a while, but don’t sweat it.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover for about 30 or 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once your lentils are soft, carefully (it’s hot!) ladle about half of your stew into the blender and puree until smooth. Return to pot and stir to combine.
Serve immediately, or put away so your husband who will be home late has something to eat when he scrounges through the fridge that night. Move some to an insulated thermos so you’ve got a hot lunch for Friday’s outing with friends.
Served with a tossed salad, hot lunches rule.
Enjoy again on Saturday and Sunday with some diced avocado, feeling grateful that you had the energy to cook on Friday and made enough to feed yourself and your loved ones for two more days so you can spend the weekend lounging around in your elastic waist-banded pants and cooking nothing more complicated than toast.
Armenians, I’ve got to hand it to you. This dish rocked like the Geghard cathedral four miles south-east of the Garni village.
(You can’t say this post didn’t teach you anything.)
The apricots made this so delicately sweet, they softened right up while cooking. This was perfectly seasoned with thyme and cumin, we’ll be visiting this recipe again.
Apricot Lentil Stew
2 – 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 – 3 cloves of garlic, minced or sliced
1/3 c apricots
1 1/2 c red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes
4 – 5 cups of water of vegetable broth
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp thyme
salt to taste (you’ll need more if you used water instead of broth)
Saute vegetables in olive oil until soft. Add lentils, tomatoes and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking for 30 – 40 minutes or until lentils are very tender. If desired, move puree half with blender or food processor and transfer back into pot. Stir to combine and serve!