I love a warming pot of beans or lentils on a cold winter’s night. On their own, beans/lentils are more or less a blank slate, not a whole lot of flavor going on. That’s where spices come into play. I make sure to keep plenty of spices on hand. By the way, it’s best to keep/store spices in their whole (seed/pod) form and ground as needed; spices retain their flavor longer this way.
Recently discovered this recipe for lentils in Michael Solomonov’s new cookbook Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, which is named after his Philadelphia-based restaurant (zahav means gold in Hebrew). I already own too many cookbooks, but couldn’t resist adding this one to my collection. Just flipping through, there are so many recipes I can’t wait to try. This is the first (of many) and I was not disappointed.
At first glance this may seem like your basic pot of lentils made with a standard mirepoix of onion, carrots, and celery. However, these lentils have Middle Eastern flair given the combination of spices. And yeah, there’s a marrow bone in the middle of each plate.
Don’t be alarmed or scared off by the marrow bones. The bones make for a nice presentation (if you so choose to include them in the finished dish), though the real flavor comes from the marrow itself — the rich, unctuous, umami, fatty substance in the middle of these bones. The marrow takes an already really good pot of lentils and elevates it to another level.
The humble French (puy) lentils (which cost ~$1.50 for a one-pound bag) are transformed into a hearty and robust-tasting plate of food that will keep me (and you) warm and satisfied all winter long.
Thinking these lentils would be perfect with a piece of pan-fried white fish on top (cod, halibut, sea bass, etc.), yum!
Mise en place…
I bought the marrow bones at two different shops (since it was the last marrow bone at the first shop). The second shop cut them vertically instead of horizontally (oops). Still works…
For the marrow bones: I soaked the bones for two hours, drained and patted them dry, and then roasted them in the oven for 20 minutes at 450F until the marrow were soft and bubbling…
Rustic, hearty, delicious.
Lentil and Bone Marrow Stew
Adapted slightly from Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking
4 (~4-inch) marrow bones (organic, grass fed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery, diced
4 garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup tomato puree
2 tablespoons baharat spice blend (see below)
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups French puy or Beluga lentils, rinsed
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped parsley plus extra for garnish
couple sprigs of rosemary
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Place the marrow bones in a large pot. Cover with cold water and several pinches of salt. Soak for 2 hours. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450F. Drain the marrow bones and pat dry. Place the bones in a roasting pan and roast until the marrow is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let cool. *Extract the marrow from the bones. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and saute until soft, but not browned, about 15 minutes. Add the tomato puree and cook 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the baharat spice blend, black pepper, and wine and cook until the wine has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the stock and lentils, and bring to simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan, releasing any bits that may have stuck to the bottom.
Add the reserved marrow bones, along with the cilantro, parsley, rosemary, and lemon zest. Cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Salt to taste.
Ladle into bowls. Place a marrow bone in the center of each. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
makes ~1/4 cup (enough for 2 batches of lentils)
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom