It's pretty much official: my slow cooker is coming into its own for the Hunger Games Challenge. I haven't put it away since the first day I've had it out.
This challenge has been a crash course in the use of lentils for me. I've had them, but I haven't done much with them (apart from deciding I liked them in my multigrain oatmeal that I made a few weeks back). I did, however, know going in how the edible seed pulse is capable of some pretty astonishing things, up to and including making ice cream. They're versatile and easy to cook. A few minutes to learn, a lifetime to master.
While I've not abandoned the ways of the meat, I've discovered on this challenge that lentils are a great way to extend a small amount, particularly soups and stews. Vegetarian or not, here's some good reasons why you should get to know lentils better, regardless of your diet:
This rustic slow-cooker pork stew is rich and meaty, it comes together in a flash, and for only a few minutes prep, you can have hot food that you didn't have to slave over a hot stove to get. Serve with chunky bread and butter.
In a frying pan, saute the onion and garlic in the oil with a pinch of salt. Once the garlic begins to brown (2-3 minutes), transfer the onions and garlic into the bottom of the crockpot. Brown the pork, seasoning generously with salt and pepper, and add it to the crockpot as well.
Add the tomatoes, lentils, bay leaves, carrots, celery, potato and water to the crockpot, stir, cover, and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or 5-6 hours on high, until most of the liquid is absorbed.
In the last 5-10 minutes, add the peas, and stir again.