Lentil & Sausage Stew

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When Darrell and I travel, our itinerary is typically shaped around our epicurean ventures. We specifically allot vacation money, not for shopping or attractions, but for dining experiences. You could say that our vacations are…well…food vacations. Over the past couple of years, we’ve enjoyed some really great food from St. Louis, MO down to our honeymoon destination, Savannah, GA. We splurge on trips. However, as much as we both like to cook and experiment in the kitchen ourselves, we do try to be frugal when at home.

The dish I’m sharing with you today is not only easy on the wallet, but it’s also quick and healthy. If you’re unfamiliar with lentils, they’re small, flat little legumes that are packed with fiber and protein. (We all know what fiber does for the body. You can skip the Metamucil!) They’re also low in fat, and a good source of folate, iron, potassium, and phosphorus. Unlike most beans, these do not require pre-soaking. Several varieties are readily available in our grocery store; for this recipe, I use green lentils. One bag is less than $2 and makes two large batches of this stew; a package of turkey sausages also makes two batches, so you can freeze half for later. Convenience. Can’t beat that!

I adapted my recipe from Budget Bytes. I somewhat “halved” her recipe (although I keep the same amount of onion and spinach, and amp up the seasonings). It makes a great weeknight dinner and also yields plenty of leftovers for lunch. Enjoy!

LENTIL & SAUSAGE STEW (4-6 servings)

INGREDIENTS
1/2 lb. Italian turkey sausage
1 medium onion
2 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup lentils
1 Tbsp chicken bouillon powder
3 cups water
1/2 cayenne
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
8 to 10 oz. frozen spinach (we like a lot!)

Cook the sausage in a large pot over medium heat. If you are using sausage links, squeeze it out of the casing.

While the sausage is cooking, prepare your vegetables: wash, chop the carrots and celery (I like to keep them a chunky size); dice the onion and mince the garlic. Once the sausage is cooked, add the vegetables and continue to cook until the onions are soft and transparent (about 5 min).

Measure out the lentils and pick through them to make sure there are no stones. Add them to the pot along with the chicken base (or bouillon), 3 cups of water, cayenne, cumin, paprika and oregano.

Bring the pot up to a simmer, place a lid on top, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Add more water if it gets too dry, and adjust seasonings to taste.

Stir in the frozen spinach, and cook for 15 minutes longer. Serve with fresh bread.

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