North African Lentil Stew

North African Lentil Stew

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  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon New Mexico-style chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 cup dried gray-green lentils, rinsed
  • 3 large tomatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and chopped (see note)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 pounds winter squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped (including stems)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, over medium heat. Add onions, peppers and garlic; sauté for about 5 minutes, until tender.

Add chili powder, cumin and coriander and cook for 1 minute more. Add lentils, tomatoes and vegetable broth, and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, until lentils are soft and tender.

Add squash cubes and a little water, if necessary, and simmer an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until squash is tender. Add chopped chard, pushing it underneath, and cover. Simmer for about 5 minutes or so — don’t overcook — just until the chard is wilted, and still brightly colored. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper, and serve at once.

Special notes:

To peel tomatoes: drop in boiling water for 45 seconds, remove and let cool. Peels will slip off easily.

Eat with good bread or serve it piled on plain steamed basmati or other rice or hot grains.

It is delicious carefully reheated, but not allowed to cook again.

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