Category Archives: Stews

The Farmers Market Files: Italian Sausage and Kale Stew (or Soup)

Italian Sausage and Kale Stew

Italian Sausage and Kale Stew

This is a great fall stew that I threw together after going a little crazy at the farmers market one weekend (did I mention I got a job?) and ending up with more stuff than I could fit in my (albeit small) refrigerator. I bought one bunch of kale that was so large, it took up almost an entire shelf in my fridge all by itself. I needed to act, and fast. So I made up a recipe that used a little bit of everything I had on hand, plus ALL of my kale, and the results were so fabulous that I did it all 0ver again the next week, enormous bunch of kale and all.

I was tempted to call this “Kale Stew, With Some Other Stuff” when I first tried it, because it does contain quite a bit of kale. However, the other ingredients ultimately hold their own, making this a great recipe for really packing away (or getting rid of, depending on your perspective) the veggies without feeling like you’re eating rabbit food. Plus, did I mention that it’s delicious? My significant other, who isn’t nearly as enthralled with veggies as I am, ate second helpings both times I made this, and insisted on taking leftovers for lunch the next day as well. (However, if eating enormous helpings of kale doesn’t sound like your thing, you can easily turn this stew into a less kale-centric soup by doubling the broth and halving the kale.)

Serve this with a hearty loaf of bread, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic meal for a cool fall evening!


Italian Sausage and Kale Stew

  • 1 1/2 lbs. hot Italian sausage (I thought chicken sausage worked especially well in this dish)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 parsnips, if you can find them, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium-sized leek, white/light green and dark parts separated, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized waxy potatoes, eyes removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie broth (or 8, if you’d rather make soup)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fennel, or 1 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 2 supermarket-sized bunches kale (or only 1 for the soup version), tough inner rib removed, cut into ~1-inch-thick slices
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Remove the Italian sausages from their casings by slicing each lengthwise and removing the inner meat. Discard the casings. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large soup pot, and sauté the sausage meat, using a spoon or spatula to break it up into smaller pieces. Once the meat has browned, after about 5 minutes, add the onion, celery, carrots, parsnips, leek bottoms, and potatoes, and sauté for another 10 minutes.

Add the broth, along with the dark green leek tops, nutmeg, and fennel. Turn up the heat and bring the soup to a simmer. Once it is simmering, add the sliced kale. If you’re using two full bunches of kale, it will probably be pretty hard to stir the kale in at this point, so cover the pot and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes; this will steam the kale, which will start to reduce its volume somewhat. After 5 minutes, take a stab at stirring the kale into the rest of the stew. Cover, and cook for another 10 minutes.

The stew is done once the kale is cooked and the potatoes are beginning to fall apart. Add salt (if your broth contained salt, you might not need much) and pepper to taste, and serve.


Cost of core ingredients: Since I only buy organic, naturally-raised, hormone-free, etc. etc. etc. meats, the 1 1/2 lbs. of Italian sausage in this recipe cost a pretty penny, making this dish the most expensive per serving of all the recipes I’ve blogged about to date. Still, at less than $3/serving, this slight indulgence definitely didn’t throw off my food budget for the week.

  • 1 large onion: ~$1
  • 2 farmers market carrots: $0.50?
  • 2 farmers market parsnips: $0.50?
  • 1 farmers market leek: $0.50?
  • 2 farmers market potatoes: $0.75?
  • 1 ENORMOUS bunch farmers market kale: $2 (this would be far more expensive if I bought it at my food co-op)
  • 1.5 lbs. chicken Italian sausage a@ $5.99/lb. = $8.99

Total cost for five servings: $14.24, plus the cost of small amounts of olive oil, celery, Better than Bullion (LOVE that stuff), spices, salt, and pepper.

Bon Appétit!


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Filed under European, Gluten-free, Meat, Recipes, Soups, Stews, Veggies

Bean and Chorizo Jambalaya

*Note: This recipe is easily made vegetarian/vegan by substituting seitan, tempeh, or even just more beans, for the chorizo, and sautéing the veggies in olive oil at the beginning.

Bean and Chorizo Jambalaya

Bean and Chorizo Jambalaya with brown rice

I know I said I wasn’t going to post until after the end of the semester, but this recipe is too good not to share. I am devouring a bowl of it as I write this.

Since abandoning vegetarianism back in October, I’ve had a hard time finding recipes that call for small amounts of meat, rather than recipes that feature meat as the main focus of the dish, which seems to be mostly what’s out there. Meat is expensive – especially naturally-raised meats (which are healthier and much better for the environment, but cost about three times as much as “conventional” meats) – so I figured that recipes using meat as an accent would be a great way to eat some meat without breaking the bank. But you definitely have to hunt for recipes like these, and a number of the ones I’ve tried have been disappointing to boot.

There’s a cookbook, Mostly Meatless by Joy Manning, that is supposed to provide exactly the types of recipes I’m looking for, but I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet. Plus, I tend to be skeptical of cookbooks that target a foodie audience, as they’re frequently filled with finicky, time-consuming recipes that, frankly, I have no patience for. So my most recent experiment has been to take really yummy, really solid vegetarian or vegan recipes and add some meat, either as a substitute for another ingredient, or as a flat-out addition.

This recipe for Jambalaya is adapted from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I’m sure these two ladies would be appalled that I’ve taken their vegan masterpiece and added pork, but…well, pork is tasty. The original recipe calls for seitan – generally considered a meat substitute – which made it way too easy to just use pork instead and call it amazing. (And incidentally, naturally-raised pork chorizo comes in at $2 less per lb. than seitan at my food co-op – meat substitutes are the most expensive food of all.) However, the recipe also contains a big, hearty amount of beans, which makes it a good way to get a lot of protein without relying exclusively on meat.

This recipe is totally a meal in itself- a big bowl of this and you’re good to go.


Bean and Chorizo Jambalaya (adapted from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero)

  • 1 1/2 c. or 3/4 lb. kidney beans, washed and soaked, OR 2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 lb. chorizo
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped/minced
  • 3 heaping Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 c. cooking sherry or vegetable/chicken broth, water + bullion stuff, etc.
  • 1 1/2 c. or 3/4 lb. rice (brown or white), washed
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 3 more c. vegetable/chicken broth, water + bullion, etc.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

If you are cooking your beans from scratch, get those cooking: Cook soaked beans in a regular pot for an hour or so, or in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes.

Remove the chorizo from its casings by slicing each lengthwise and removing the inner meat. Discard the casings. Heat a large pot over medium heat, add the chorizo, and use a wooden spoon or whatever you’ve got to break it up into chunks, similar to ground beef. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chorizo has browned on the outside, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic, and continue to cook over medium until the vegetables are very soft, about 12-14 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another 4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Use the cooking sherry or 1/2 cup broth to deglaze the bottom of the pan, and use a wooden spoon to scrape stuck bits off the bottom and sides. Add the rice, stir, and let cook for a further 4 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, beans (drained of their cooking liquid, though you can reserve this if you want), bay leaf, and all the herbs/spices. Add the 3 cups of broth, bullion stuff, etc. (if you are using bullion, I recommend adding 3 cups of kidney bean cooking water instead of plain water), and bring to a simmer.

If you are using white rice, you will need to cook this for about 30 minutes; brown rice will take 55-60. Give it a stir every 10-15 minutes or so. When the rice is done, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.


Cost of core ingredients: Meat is pricey, and adds to the cost of this dish considerably. However, when all is said and done, this really isn’t bad for 6 servings of food. Ingredients are primarily organic and were all purchased at my food co-op.

  • 1 lb. naturally-raised pork chorizo @ $5.99/lb. = $5.99
  • 3/4 lbs. kidney beans @ $2.19/lb. = $1.64
  • 1 green bell pepper: $1.09
  • 1 large onion: ~$1.20
  • 3/4 lbs. brown basmati rice @ $2.29/lb. = $1.72
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes: $2.50

Total for at least 6 servings: $14.14 + the cost of small amounts of celery, garlic, tomato paste, cooking sherry, broth/bullion, and all herbs/spices.

Bon Appétit!

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Filed under Beans, Fusion, Gluten-free, Meat, Recipes, Rice, Stews, Vegan-adaptable, Vegetarian-adaptable

Greek-style Lentils and Rice, plus excuses for why I haven’t been posting lately

Ohai culinary blogsphere and lovers of Inexpensive Real Food everywhere. Long time no see.

All kinds of stuff has been going down in my life lately. This stuff has prevented me from posting by effectively turning my brain into a quivering pile of goo. It has included:

  • Near mental and emotional breakdowns due to the stress of Ph.D. work
  • Dramatic questioning of What I Want To Be Doing With My Life and Whether Getting a Ph.D. is Actually Going to Get Me There
  • Very, very serious contemplation of dropping out of grad school or, at the very least, taking a break
  • Crippling anxiety over my perceived lack of marketable skills for doing anything other than getting a Ph.D.
  • Daily flip-flopping over whether I need to cancel or postpone my last major qualifying exam (which is less than three weeks away, ahhhhh)
  • Etc.

Grad students and former grad students will know exactly what I mean. To everyone else, I will just say this: Ph.D.s are evil and you should not get them. (That, and: If you want to give me a job if I quit my Ph.D. program, shoot me a comment.)

Anyway. I’ve finally managed to get some mental R&R lately, which has put me in a much better frame of mind and made me want to blog about cheap food again. Yay! I can’t promise that this will happen again before the semester is finished, but I do intend to keep at this once my metaphorical plate is a little less full.

Moukentra (Greek Lentils and Rice)

Greek-style lentils and brown rice

So. Carrying on. This dish, called Moukentra in my Greek cookbook, is another one of my favorites. It’s a good fallback option when you need a quick-ish meal and you don’t have much food in the house – the only ingredient it calls for that I don’t always have on hand is fresh cilantro, and it can be made without it in a pinch. I’ve made this dish with both white and brown rice, and it’s fantastic both ways.

This recipe is adapted from The Foods of the Greek Islands by Aglaia Kremezi. Though it’s low on veggies, I usually eat it on its own, though it would be even tastier paired with a small salad or the like.


Moukentra (Greek-style Lentils and Rice, adapted from The Foods of the Greek Islands by Aglaia Kremezi)

  • 1 c. or 1/2 lb. green or brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cups lentil cooking water, chicken/veggie stock, water + bullion stuff, plain water, or a combination thereof
  • 1 c. brown or white rice, rinsed (the recipe calls for white Arborio, but I have substituted brown basmati with similarly tasty results)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, depending on your spice tolerance
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the lentils: Wash them, then put them in a pot with the bay leaf and water to cover by about two inches. Bring this to a boil, and let it simmer until the lentils are done, about 20-25 minutes. Chop your veggies in the meantime. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them, reserving the cooking water if you want to use it later in the dish (this is optional, but flavorful and efficient).

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan or large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion until it has softened, about five minutes. Add two cups of the lentil cooking water or stock or whatever you are using, plus the rice, cooked lentils, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer.

The cooking time will depend on whether you are using white or brown rice – white rice should cook in about 20 minutes, brown in 50. Regardless of which you use, open the lid to stir the dish periodically, and add a bit more lentil water/stock/whatever if it’s drying out or sticking. This dish is supposed to be creamy like a risotto rather than fluffy like a pilaf, so a bit of extra liquid won’t hurt anything. Cook until the rice is done.

Remove from heat and add the cilantro, along with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.


Cost of core ingredients: All primarily organic and purchased at my food co-op.

  • ~1/2 lb. brown lentils @ $1.79/lb. = $0.90
  • 1 medium red onion: ~$1
  • ~1/2 lb. brown basmati rice @ $2.19/lb. = $1.10
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro = $1

Total for at least four servings: $4.00 plus the cost of small amounts of olive oil, stock/bullion, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf.

Bon Appétit!


Filed under Gluten-free, Greek, Lentils, Recipes, Rice, Stews, Vegan, Vegetarian

Javanese Lentils

Javanese Lentils

Javanese Lentils with a fried onion garnish

This dish is another great take on a simple lentil stew, this time with an Indonesian spin. It’s amazing how many ways you can cook lentils and come out with totally different and delicious results every time.

I’ve adapted the recipe from a much more complicated one for Mee Java (or Javanese noodles), from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook. The original recipe calls for this stew to be served as a kind of sauce over seasoned noodles, with about five separate garnishes (each of which has to be prepared separately). I’ve made this dish according to the original instructions several times, but I eventually decided to dispense with most of the minor details of the recipe, because the lentil sauce/stew part is most of what makes it good. However, I decided to keep one garnish – caramelized onions, fried until crispy – because it adds a wonderful sweetness to the dish, but this part is entirely optional.

The original recipe calls for split pigeon peas (sold as toor or toovar dal in Indian markets), but basically any skin-less lentil will do. I usually make this dish with red lentils or yellow split peas. I’ve also substituted onions for shallots here, just because of the huge price difference between the two. Ground asafoetida is common in Indian and Southeast Asian dishes, but might be hard to find outside of Indian and Asian markets, food co-ops, and specialty stores.

I like to serve this stew over brown rice, but it can also be served over basically any type of noodle as well.


Javanese Lentils (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook)

1 lb. or about 2 1/4 cups red lentils, pigeon peas, or yellow split peas
6 Tbsp. vegetable or coconut oil (coconut oil adds a LOT here – buy on Amazon to avoid paying through the nose at a health foods store)
3/4 tsp. ground asafoetida
2 tsp. whole mustard seeds
1 large onion, cut in half and finely sliced (for optional fried onion garnish)
1 medium onion, chopped
2-4 green serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
4 tsp. curry powder of your choice
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes OR 2 1/2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, if in season, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro (leaves and stems), minced
~2 tsp. salt, or to taste
2 Tbsp. lemon juice, or to taste
Rice or noodles for serving

First, get the lentils cooking: Wash well to reduce foaming, and cover with six cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, skim off the foam that floats to the top, and cook until mushy and beginning to break down – about 20- 25 minutes for red lentils, longer for pigeon peas and split peas. Continue to cook if you would like the stew to have a smoother texture.

Then, get the fried onion garnish going (optional): Heat 4 Tbsp. of the oil in a large frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. When hot, add the finely sliced onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion pieces are reddish-brown. Turn off the heat just as they are starting to become crispy, or they may burn. (It’s important that onions be sliced with a consistent thickness for this step, or the thinner ones will burn before the thicker ones have caramelized.) Set aside when done.

While the lentils and onions are cooking, prepare the rest of the lentil dish: Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large frying pan or sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat (but not too high, or the mustard seeds will burn). When hot, put in asafoetida and mustard seeds, stir, and cook for about 15 seconds. Add the medium chopped onion and chopped chiles, stir, and cook for about five minutes. Add the curry powder, stir, and cook for anonther minute. Add the tomatoes, cilantro, salt, and 1 1/2 cup of water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 8 minutes. Add this whole mixture to the lentils (whether they are done cooking or not), along with the cilantro and lemon juice, and cook uncovered for at least 15 minutes, or until the lentils have reached the desired consistency. Add more water if the lentils become too dry and start to stick.

Adjust lentils for salt. Serve over rice or noodles, with fried onions as a garnish.


Cost of core ingredients: All primarily organic and purchased at my food co-op.

1 lb. red lentils @ $2.29/lb. = $2.29
1 large onion: ~$1.20
1 medium onion: ~$0.90
3 serrano chiles: $0.48
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes: $2.49
1/2 bunch cilantro: $1
1 lemon: $1.06
1 lb. brown rice for serving @ $2.29/lb. = ~$2.29

Total for six servings: $11.71, plus the cost of small amounts of oil, asafoetida, mustard seeds, curry powder, and salt.

Bon Appétit!

1 Comment

4 February 2012 · 4:35 pm

Rajma – Indian Kidney Bean Curry

Rajma - Indian Kidney Bean Stew

Rajma served with brown rice

So, I have somewhat of a backlog of recipes to post here, for the kind of stupid reason that I prefer to take pictures of my food in natural light – which is to say, daylight – but I’m often not home during the day. EVERYTHING – you dog, your grandma, your significant other, and the curry you just made – looks better in natural light. But I usually cook in the evening, so I have to wait until the next day, or, more often, several days later, to take pictures of my dishes. I currently have a backlog of leftovers in my fridge, waiting to be photographed. Oh, the trials of food blogging. (#firstworldproblems, I know.)

Anyway, I made this stew last week and, as usual, its extreme tastiness did not fail to boggle my mind. This recipe is actually what inspired me to start thinking about dishes in terms of their tastiness-to-simplicity ratio. I never make a recipe twice if it’s not tasty the first time around, but some things that I cook on a regular basis are tastier than others, and this recipe is near the top. Yet it lacks the long, long lists of ingredients and steps that a lot of supremely tasty dishes have. And it’s cheap to boot. Basically, it wins at everything good.

I reeaallllly recommend using home-cooked kidney beans here rather than canned – their cooking broth adds a lot of flavor and texture to the stew. This stew comes out best when you can overcook your beans a bit so that they’re starting to break down, so pressure-cooked beans are ideal. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, mash some of your beans against the side of the pot after they have cooked.) Serve this stew over rice.

I adapted this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook, with very few modifications.


Rajma – Indian Kidney Bean Curry (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook)

1 lb. or around 2 cups dried kidney beans, soaked (or two large cans, if you must)
3 Tbsp. vegetable or coconut oil*
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1-inch piece ginger, minced (tip: if organic, leave the skin on – it does no harm)
2 serranos or other hot green chiles, chopped with seeds removed
1 lb. fresh tomatoes, if in season, diced, OR 1 15.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, depending on how much heat you want
2 Tbsp. dried mango powder (available in Indian markets) OR 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (I actually like the lemon juice better)
1 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

Cook the kidney beans: Place in a large pot, cover by a couple inches of water, and cook for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until done, OR cook in a pressure cooker for 12-15 minutes.

When the kidney beans are nearing done-ness, start the rest of the dish: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until it turns a reddish-brown color, about 15-20 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one minute. Add the chile, tomatoes, and all spices (not including salt), and cook over medium heat for five minutes. Stir in the cooked kidney beans and enough of their cooking liquid to cover everything, plus the mango powder or lemon juice, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Season with salt, and serve over rice, om nom nom.

*A note on oils: I general substitute coconut oil for vegetable, because of its many health benefits. It is definitely not a neutral-tasting oil, but I think it adds a lovely additional flavor to basically any Indian or Asian dish. (I use olive oil or butter for all other dishes.) It’s SUPER expensive at food co-ops, Whole Foods, etc., but can be bought for a relatively reasonable price through Amazon – this option, for example, is $22 for a HUGE tub of it that should last you several months.


Cost of core ingredients: All primarily organic and purchased at my food co-op.

1 lb. kidney beans @ $2.19/lb.= $2.19
1 large onion: ~$1.20
2 serrano chiles: $0.32
1 15.5 oz. can diced tomatoes: $1.49
1 lemon: $1.06
~3/4 lb. brown rice for serving @ $2.29/lb. = ~$1.72

Total for at least 4 servings: $7.98 + the cost of small amounts of oil, garlic, ginger, all spices, and salt.

Bon Appétit!


Filed under Beans, Gluten-free, Indian, Recipes, Stews, Vegan, Vegetarian

Ethiopian Lentil (Berberé) Stew

Ethiopian Lentil Stew

Way tastier than baby food

Hokay. Evil research grant application of DOOOOM is all submitted, and I am back to cookin’ up cheap stuff and blogging about it. Yay!

Right, so, Ethiopian lentil stew. Please ignore the fact that this stuff kind of looks like baby food, because it is SUPER tasty, and insanely cheap. It’s also really easy and straightforward, which makes it great for hectic evenings. Like harira (Moroccan vegetable soup), the many spices in this recipe are what really make it sing. Most of these spices are common and widely available, though you might have trouble getting your hands on ground fennugreek seed and ground cardamom – these are both available at Indian, Middle Eastern, and North African markets, but the stew is fine without them too. You can also buy a premade berberé spice mixture, if you’re so inclined, from Northeast African markets and the like.

This recipe is adapted from the Berberé Stew recipe over at I’ve changed it to not be fat free, because I don’t believe anything should be fat free (low-fat, fine, but research shows that your body needs some fat to properly absorb the nutrients in your food, plus a little bit of fat goes a long way in making you feel full and satisfied).

Serve this stew over rice or with flatbread (for an authentic-ish Ethiopian meal, pick up some injera if you live near a market that sells it).


Ethiopian Lentil (Berberé) Stew (adapted from

1 lb. red lentils (about 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
A few cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground fenugreek seed
1/2 tsp.  ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp.  ground cloves
1/2 tsp.  ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp.  turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne (or more if you like heat)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp.  ground black pepper
1 28 0z. can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. salt, or to taste

Get the lentils cooking: Wash well (to reduce the amount of foaming when they start boiling, which is harmless but annoying), and cover with 6 cups of water in a large-ish pot. Bring to a boil, skim off the foam on the top, and then add all spices except salt. Let the lentils simmer, partially covered. Add more water if they become too dry.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a separate pan. Sauté the onion and garlic until the garlic begins to brown. Add this to the simmering lentils. Add the diced or crushed tomatoes, return to a simmer, and continue to cook partially covered.

Once the lentils have been simmering for 20-25 minutes, this dish is ready to eat, though you can keep simmering for longer if you want the lentils to break down completely and become creamy, like in an Indian dhal (you’ll probably need to add more water if you do this). Add salt to taste at the end, and serve over rice or with a flatbread.


Cost of core ingredients: Primarily organic and purchased at my food co-op.

1 lb. lentils @ $2.29/lb = $2.29
1 large onion = ~$1.20
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes = $2.49
1 lb.  brown rice for serving @ $2.29/lb. = $2.29

Total for at least 6 servings: $8.27 + the cost of small amounts of olive oil, garlic, and all spices.

Bon Appétit!


Filed under Gluten-free, Lentils, Northeast African, Recipes, Stews, Vegan, Vegetarian

Macedonian Wheat Berry Stew

Macedonian Wheat Berry Stew

Macedonian Wheat Berry Stew

Wheat berries are whole kernels of wheat – the part that gets ground up to make whole-wheat flour. They are commonly eaten whole in the Middle East, and often show up in stews like this one. (I am lumping this type of dish, from the Balkans, into the category of Middle Eastern cuisine because its primary ingredients and flavors are more closely related to Middle Eastern foods than to European cuisines.) Their chewy texture is somewhat different from the grains most Americans are used to, but they are tasty, filling, and cheap.

However, they aren’t commonly eaten in the U.S., and so they may be hard to get your hands on. Food co-ops in the Twin Cities all sell them in bulk bins, and other grocery and health-food stores with a good bulk selection should carry them as well. They can also be found packaged through the Bob’s Red Mill brand (either online or in some grocery stores), which carries specialty grains, beans, etc. If you can find them in bulk, they should be one of the cheapest foods you can buy – organic wheat berries are $1.19/lb. at my food co-op. (If, however,  you can’t find them at all, you can substitute cooked barley or rice.)

Wheat Berries

Uncooked wheat berries

Wheat berries come in hard and soft varieties, which basically differ only in their protein content. Any kind of wheat berry should be fine here. Similar to beans, wheat berries take a while to cook (90 minutes, or 30 in a pressure cooker), and require a pre-soak. However, once they’re cooked, this recipe comes together very quickly.

I’ve adapted this stew from a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey. The original recipe calls for this stew to be used as stuffing for a stuffed tomato dish. I think it’s plenty tasty enough to be served all on its own. I generally serve it with plain yogurt, either mixed in or on the side, to give it an extra kick of flavor and protein.


Macedonian Wheat Berry Stew (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook)

1 1/2 cups wheat berries
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2-3 green chiles, chopped/minced
1/2 bunch parsley (stems and leaves), chopped/minced
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried rosemary, very finely crushed in a mortar and pestle or using your fingers
1 tsp. salt or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Plain yogurt, for serving (optional, but tasty)

Soak the wheat berries for at least 8 hours in 12 cups of water. Cook in the same water, either on the stove for ~90 minutes, or in a pressure cooker for 30. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and then drain in a colander.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onion and garlic for five minutes or so, until softened. Add the chopped chiles and canned tomatoes, and simmer for another 3 minutes. Add the drained wheat berries, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and 1 cup reserved wheat berry cooking water. Bring to a quick simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, stirring often. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with several spoonfuls of plain yogurt mixed into the stew, or a bowl of yogurt on the side.


Cost of core ingredients: Primarily organic and purchased at my food co-op.

1/2 lb. wheat berries @ $1.19/lb = $0.60
1 onion = ~$1.20
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes = $2.49
2 green chiles = ~$0.16
1/2 bunch parsley = $1.00
1/2 tub of plain yogurt for serving (I will use the rest elsewhere) = $1.40

Total for at least 4 servings: $6.85 + the cost of small amounts of olive oil, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper.

Macedonian Wheat Berry Stew

Served with yogurt

Bon Appétit!

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Filed under Middle Eastern, Recipes, Stews, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wheat