Forget bland and boring, and enjoy big and bold instead. Cajun Lentil Stew is a welcome winter warmup! Bursting with veggies and loaded with flavor, this vegan stew doesn’t miss much. A perfect blend of textures and spices you’ll want to curl up with for days… if it lasts that long!
Kick it! Any time I cook something that packs a spicy (but not necessarily “hot”) punch I enter the kitchen like it’s Monday Night Raw (Is that a thing? Am I confusing it with football?) on WWE (WWF? GLOW? Whatever it is these days…) with the opening strains of “Fight for Your Right” by the Beastie Boys playing in my head.
I may not always feel like it (or sound like it), but I’m a suburban mom. Heck, lemme just go there: I am a suburban soccer mom. And there are days when I wonder “How did I, of all people, get here?” Don’t misunderstand me – I don’t turn my nose up at this life. I love my life. Not every minute of every day (and yeah, you are a rotten liar if you say you do) but I have a husband I love, children I love, a job I love, and a house I will absolutely love someday when I get the gumption to finish painting it. I really can’t complain.
But there are days I think to myself “You know, as nihilistic as it ended, conceptually, maybe the folks in Fight Club were on to something…” Cause some days, I feel like I need to be slapped (not punched – to be fair, I am a Grade A wuss) out of some monotonous stupor. I mean, it helps to have a hyperactive, extremely loud, and incredibly close 4 year old; but we suburban moms need a jolt too.
So, because I am an emotionally-dependent food addict, and a wuss, and these three gentlemen I share a life with can barely survive a weekend without me, my risky business must be measured in Scoville units instead of RPM or wind velocity or altitude…
Now entering the ring: the Ragin’ Cajun!!
Bring On the Cajun Flavor
This lentil stew starts with the “Holy Trinity” (aka Cajun Mirepoix) – equal parts green bell pepper, onion, and celery. And it finishes with Cajun Seasoning. If you’ve got it or you can find it, feel free to use a pre-purchased blend. Otherwise, making your own is way easier than you think!
Here’s my go-to blend from my gloriously spice-forward Kickin’ Cajun Chicken and Chicken Étouffée:
- 3 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 2-3 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1.5 tsp dried thyme
- 1.5 tsp cracked black pepper
Shake it all up in a jar and store in a cool dry place for up to a year.
Tips for Making Lentil Stew Perfectly
- Fire roasted tomatoes always make a huge difference in quick cooking soups and stews. They’re sweeter than their standard canned counterparts and bring a more complex flavor. Use them if you can find them.
- Peel the sweet potato first. I don’t always recommend peeling potatoes (there’s so much nutrition in the skin!) but I think the difference in texture here is worth the (minimal) effort.
- Lentils don’t need to be soaked, but do give them a quick rinse and pick through to remove any small stones or pieces of debris.
What Kind of Lentils Should I Use?
Brown or green lentils work best for this recipe. Red and yellow lentils are split, so they’ll cook down and disintegrate, a texture I’m not a huge fan of for stews (they’re great in curries and brothier soupsthough!). Brown and green lentils hold the shape well and absorb flavor like a boss – they’re the cauliflower of the legume world!
Are Lentils Healthy?
Lentils are a super food, indeed. Incredibly high in both protein and fiber, they’re also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Good for heart health and regulating blood sugar too!
They’re also extremely “wallet healthy,” and are one of the most economical options for plant protein (and protein period.)
Beans aside, the entire recipe is vegan/plant based, gluten and grain free for those with dietary restrictions.
What to Serve with Lentil Stew
This is a hearty and nutritionally complete meal all on its own, but if you’d like to round it out, you can’t go wrong with a heel of crusty bread or a tossed green salad.
Storing and Reheating
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Reheat single portions in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Reheat larger portions in a sauce pan on the stove over medium heat until warmed through.
Freeze single or large batch portions in an airtight container for up to three months.
Warm Bowls for Cold Days: More Recipes You’ll Love
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- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium green bell peppers, diced to ½”
- 1 large yellow onion, diced to ½”
- 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 1.5 tbsp cajun seasoning
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 14-oz can fire roasted diced or crushed tomatoes
- 1 c brown or green lentils
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced to ½"
- 4 c vegetable broth
- kosher salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- chopped parsley, to garnish
- Heat a dutch oven or 6-quart soup pot over medium high heat. Add the oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the peppers, onions, and celery and saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cajun seasoning and cook, stirring continuously, until very fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, lentils, sweet potato and broth and give everything a good stir. Increase the heat to high until the liquid starts to simmer, then reduce to medium or medium low to maintain a brisk simmer. Cover and cook until the lentils are cooked through and the sweet potatoes are tender, 30-35 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper (start with ½ tsp each, and increase to taste). Serve immediately, garnished with chopped parsley if desired.
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