Super Spicy Curried Red Lentils & Beef

It felt a little chilly over the past weekend, so I made these super hot and spicy red lentils and they were so good, the pot was empty in no time. It’s a recipe I have to share, even though it’s expected to be perfect beach weather today, with the temperatures in the high eighties. Save this one for a cool, autumn night. Enjoy!

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  • 1 pound of flanken chuck short ribs
  • 1 pound red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 or more cloves of garlic, smashed and minced fine
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 scallion, finely sliced
  • 5 juniper berries
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 heaping teaspoon garam marsala
  • 1/2 a teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 2 heaping tablespoons garlic chili sauce (made by the same wonderful people that make that addictive Sriracha sauce, usually found next to each other)
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, heat up the olive oil, until sizzling on low to medium heat. In the meantime, season the beef with sea salt and pepper. Brown the ribs on all sides and add in the garlic and give them a good toss. Watch the garlic carefully so it softens but doesn’t brown. Add in the water along with the juniper berries and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Once it has come to a boil, lower the heat to a low setting and simmer for 1 hour. Next, add in the lentils and scallions along with the rest of the spices. Give a good stir and let simmer for about 30 minutes, give or take. On the side, keep a kettle with hot water going, in case the water evaporates and the lentils aren’t tender yet. They will also start sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add in about a 1/4-1/2 cup of water as needed. (Enjoy a nice cup of tea while you are waiting.) Needing water depends on the freshness of the lentils. I’ve had lentils cook up in a shockingly quick 20 minutes. This batch took 40 minutes and an additional half a cup of water. Discard the juniper berries and bay leaf, adjust the seasoning as needed. Serves 6. This is great warmed up the next day and even nice served cold atop a baby kale salad with a hard boiled egg on the side.

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Sage Lentils

Hard to believe but years ago, I decided to become a vegetarian on Thanksgiving day, with all of the deliciousness on the table. But I stuck to it for three years and it was a great experience with a new found appreciation for beans, veggie burgers, tofu and a restaurant called Veggie Heaven. What a great place for anyone making the transition! As dramatic as my choice of day to become a vegetarian, it ended the same way, with a 10 P.M. Friday night trip to a Chinese restaurant for boneless pork spareribs. No slowly weening my way back into eating meat with maybe fish or chicken to start, no, no, lol, I went all the way and never quite looked back. And I understand that for vegetarians, Thanksgiving can be a little hard. But this recipe is hearty and delicious and can be made extra special and a wonderful addition to the Thanksgiving day table. And for carnivores, this is a satisfying dish for meatless Mondays or Fridays. Enjoy!

  • 3/4 pound lentils, soaked overnight
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped, about a cup
  • 1 teaspoon dried champignon mushrooms
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 porchini mushroom cube
  • 3 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 4 small Campari tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 liter of water

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and the small onion on low heat for 10 minutes until the onions are softened. Add in the lentils and the rest of the ingredients. Bringing everything to a boil and lower the heat, simmering for 2 1/2 hours, covered. Stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning as needed and remove the cloves and tomato skins. As the lentils sit, they will absorb more of the liquid. Serve with sauteed oysters and drizzle the lentils with truffle oil for a extra special touch. If you have leftovers, puree the lentils and you have a nice bean dip with crackers and vegetables.

Oxtail & Lentil Stew in a Pumpkin

This could be a potentially cute couples night, (with a couple that doesn’t squirm at the thought of eating oxtails, lol) With two sugar pumpkins filled with steamy stew and a bottle of wine, this could be the perfect couples night, at your place. Oxtails are really good once cooked down, till the meat is falling off the bone, combined with sage flavored lentils and creamy potatoes, this is a comforting meal. This stew is time consuming to make but the reward is a not-so-ordinary-dinner and the warmth and coziness it brings to your kitchen, is a definite plus, as the longer it simmers on the stove, the better it gets. Serve each couple with a pumpkin, 2 bowls and spoons and good bread on the side. Present each pumpkin with its’ own mini ladle, so each couple can help themselves. Enjoy!

  • 2 sugar pumpkins, each weighing about 3-4 pounds each
  • 1 pound oxtails
  • flour
  • vegetable oil
  • 4 oz. dried lentils, soaked overnight
  • 1 small carrot, sliced and cut into half-moons
  • 1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 2-3 small sage leaves
  • pinch marjoram leaves
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 cups water, plus more as needed
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt

Salt and pepper your oxtails and dredge them in flour. Heat up a generous drizzle of oil in a Dutch oven until hot. Sear the oxtails on all sides, on medium-high heat, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn. Remove them from the pot and lower the heat and add your shallots. Quickly saute them and add in the lentils, giving them a good stir. Add in the water, potatoes, carrots, pumpkin puree, sage leaves, marjoram and nutmeg. Stirring up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add in your oxtails and bring to a boil on high heat with the pot covered. Add in the bouillon, and stir until it’s dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer covered for a minimum of 3 hours. Adding water, as needed, as it reduces. And you could enjoy this as a soup or as a stew, depending on how much liquid you add or reduce. While your stew is simmering away, you can prepare the pumpkins. Begin by cutting the lids off the pumpkin. (Leave about an inch to the stem, so none of the stew comes spilling out, once it’s poured in.) Remove the seeds and the pumpkin threads and don’t be shy about carving into your pumpkin with a spoon, to remove all of the threads. You want a pretty smooth surface inside the pumpkin and the lid. (Reserve your pumpkin seeds for roasting, another day.) Place them in a 13×9 baking pan. Pour two cups of water into the pan and place them in a 325 degree pre-heated oven for 1 hour. After the hour is up, cover with aluminum foil, (with the stems sticking through) and bake for another hour. Let them cool a bit before handling. Using good oven gloves, carefully, move the pumpkins to their serving platter and divide the stew into the pumpkins and serve! You can also scoop some of the pumpkin with the soup, it’s really good! Serves 2 couples or makes 4 servings.