A wonderfully fragrant and warm lentil stew. All thanks to Ras el Hanout, a wonderful mixture of spices often making an appearance in Moroccan cuisine. This aromatic spice blend will turn your standard lentil stew up a notch and leave you with a feeling of warmth, nourishment and comfort. Ras el Hanout has become quite popular, so you can find it at middle eastern grocers, specialty stores or any well-stocked grocery. If you can’t find it, don’t fret, you can create a quick Ras el Hanout spice blend with spices you probably already have in your pantry: combine equal parts coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and cinnamon. If you have cloves and nutmeg, add a bit as well, and finish with some freshly ground black pepper. Lentils are a wonderful source of iron, protein and fiber, plus the addition of vitamin-rich sweet potato makes it a great recipe to keep on rotation this fall and on to winter (and it’s super easy)! Got some extra sweet potatoes on hand? Try this sweet potato and chickpea tagine.
ras el hanout lentil stew
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1½ tablespoon Ras el Hanout
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1½ cup lentils (green or brown), picked over and rinsed
1 bay leaf
6 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup small shape pasta, such as ditalini (I used gluten-free brown rice shells)
zest of half a lemon
Parsley, leaves and tender stems, to serve
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, sweet potato, tomato paste, ras el hanout, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add lentils and bay leaf and cook for another minute or so, stirring constantly. Pour in 6 cups of broth or water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a gentle simmer and cook covered for 20-25 minutes or until lentils and sweet potato are almost tender. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, about 10-12 minutes more. Stir in lemon zest. Serve with parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Please note, if you'd like a thinner, more soupy consistency, feel free to add more broth or water.