Red Lentil Stew with Asparagus and New Potatoes

Red lentils are the fast food of the legume world. This stew takes only 20 minutes to make, not hours like other bean stews. Enjoy asparagus flavor in every bite by cooking the lentils in an asparagus tea made from the woody stems. It’s a great choice when you’re eager to get outside to enjoy the spring weather or on any busy day.

1 clove garlic
4 ounces asparagus
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup red lentils (3 ounces)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 red or yellow onion
2 new potatoes (8 ounces)

Mince garlic and set aside. Trim about 1/4 inch from the bottom of asparagus stalks to get rid of any dirty or damaged parts. Gently flex each stem so it breaks just above the woody part of the stalk. To make asparagus tea, cut the woody parts in half lengthwise and put in a small pot with water and salt. Cover pot, bring to a boil over high heat, then turn off heat and allow tea to steep.

Pick through lentils to remove any stones or debris. Rinse lentils and set aside.

In a medium pot, warm olive oil over medium-low heat. Chop onion into 1/8-inch pieces and cook with olive oil until soft, about 3 minutes. Chop potatoes into 1/4-inch cubes.

Add lentils, potatoes and asparagus tea to onion mixture, discarding asparagus stems. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer for about 6 minutes, until lentils and potatoes are barely tender.

Cut tender parts of asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Stir into stew, cover and simmer until asparagus is bright green and crisp-tender.

Serve hot or room temperature.

Serves two.

Recipe courtesy Linda Watson, author of Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet — All on $5 a Day or Less (Da Capo Press, 2011), used by permission.

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