This Spanish-style vegan lentil stew is easy to make with very simple ingredients and perfect for vegans on a serious budget. Hearty and comforting, this oil-free recipe is great as a plant-based main dish for chilly evenings or as a side for a summer barbeque or picnic. It’s a freezer-friendly meal that comes in at only $0.50 a serving.
In various social media vegan and plant-based groups I see a lot of questions from newbies about how to replace the meat in their diets. Lentils should absolutely become a staple in any plant-based kitchen; not only are they so versatile, they’re cheap, cheap, cheap!
I live in Spain, and the Spanish are definitely masters at taking cheap, simple ingredients and turning them into something delicious (gazpacho, anyone?). I was inspired to make this Spanish-style vegan lentil stew after having a similar dish at a restaurant a couple of weeks ago. While it normally has various forms of meat and sausage in it, the version I had was totally vegetarian.
I ask my husband all the time to give me ideas for Spanish recipes to veganize but for some reason I don’t think he’s ever mentioned lentils. Turns out that he’s been eating lentil stew all his life and has several versions from the different members of his family. Since the dominant flavour is smoked paprika, it’s really easy to veganize and have a flavourful, filling stew. I simply took out the meat and added a bit of soy sauce for some umami.
I also simplified the procedure down to a one-pot recipe and converted it to oil-free. Normally Spanish cooking is laden with olive oil, which is fine if you’re not a fat-free vegan, but I tend to try to avoid using it in recipes where it’s totally unnecessary, like for softening onions and garlic.
This Spanish-style vegan lentil stew turned out to be wildly addictive as I couldn’t stop sneaking spoonfuls of it out of the bowl as I was taking pictures! It’s really great with some crusty bread to mop up all the goodness and a fresh green salad on the side. You could also use it to stuff a baked potato or serve it as a side to some grilled veggies at your next barbeque!
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Spanish-Style Vegan Lentil StewPrint Recipe
- 1 medium onion, finely diced - $0.15
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated or finely minced - $0.16
- 1 medium green pepper, finely diced - $0.16
- 1 large tomato, finely diced (bonus points if you remove the skin) - $0.14
- 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika - $0.15
- 1 bay leaf - $0.15
- 4 cups (1 litre) water - $0.00
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced - $0.13
- 1 large potato, peeled and finely diced - $0.23
- 1 ¼ cups (250 grams) dried lentils, rinsed – $0.55
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari - $0.10
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste) - $0.03
- A few grinds of pepper - $0.03
- Garnishes of your choice (optional)
Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat and add a splash of water, the onion, garlic, green pepper and tomato. Allow to cook until everything is very soft, adding more water if necessary. You want these ingredients to meld into the stew and not be detectable so let them get really, really soft.
Allow any excess water to simmer off and add the paprika and bay leaf. Allow to cook for about 2 minutes to bring out the flavour while stirring so it doesn’t burn. Add the water, carrots, potato and lentils. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and creamy.
When the lentils are ready, add the soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
This stew can be served thick or thin. Add more water if you want it soupier. I thickened mine ever so slightly with a couple blitzes of an immersion blender, but it’s totally optional. It will also thicken as it cools. I garnished mine to make it photographic; garnishes are optional and of your choice.