Smoky Fish & Lentil Winter Stew

Tonight I was going to make soup, but then I had one of those moments when you realise your entire brain has melted out of your ears (completely ruining your upholstery) and you’d planned something else for dinner only the night before.

And you’d taken something out of the freezer.

You’re trapped.

You must eat the freezer food.

Also, I’m fully aware that it’s meant to be spring. As I stare out of the window at the pouring rain, with a blanket over my legs to stave off the cold, I am very much aware that it is meant to be spring. But it feels like winter and if I want to make a winter stew on my blog I’ll damn well do it.

I’m a little cranky today, but we can get through this together. We can do it… with a hearty stew. Is there anything it can’t fix? Much like tea*, it can ease hunger, heartbreak, sadness, grief — all four emotions! What a spectrum.

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It might not look like much, but it’s warm, comforting, and chock full of lean protein and vegetables. Also, not to put too fine a point on it… but it is another one-pot wonder.

Smoky Fish & Lentil Winter Stew (Pescatarian, Gluten-free)

Serves 3-4
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins

Equipment

Medium-large saucepan with a lid; knife and board for chopping and/or emulating popular fight scenes from Gladiator.

Ingredients

  • 240g pack smoked fish (basa is cheap and delicious, but haddock and cod are both good too)
  • 1 large courgette
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 “bundles” frozen spinach** (or a whole bag of fresh)
  • 40g red split lentils
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 500ml boiled water
  • 2 tbsp reduced fat sour cream/crème fraîche
  • Salt & pepper
  • Splash of oil (or a generous coating of cooking spray)

Optional:

You can serve this with rice or some nice crusty bread and it will go a lot further. I didn’t want any, because I live my days in a state of fancy and whimsy, but you do you.

Method

  1. Whack the kettle on and get your pan on a medium heat with your oil or cooking spray. Dice the onion and finely chop the garlic (you can grate the garlic or use a garlic press if you prefer, but I find you lose a lot of it to the void if you do this), then prepare the courgette by cutting in half length-ways and then cutting into half-moons. Add the onion and courgette to the pan with the salt and pepper, and leave to soften for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic halfway through this time.
  2. While this is going on, sort out the fish; cut it into bite-sized chunks, and remove the skin if it still has any. Set aside.
  3. Add the dry lentils to the pan and stir, letting them start to take on the flavours for a couple of minutes. Crumble in the stock cube then add the water, tossing in the spinach and putting on the lid so that it can sort of dissolve into the stock. If you’re using fresh spinach, I’d recommend giving it a rinse and popping it in a microwaveable bowl so that you can nuke it for a couple of minutes prior to this stage – squeeze out the water and Bob’s your uncle. It’s much easier to manage when it’s taking up 1/1000th of the space.
  4. Let everything bubble for 10 more minutes then add the fish to the pan, making sure it’s as submerged as possible. The lentils should have thickened everything considerably by this point but it should still be quite wet. Moist. Ha. Sorry. Anyway, pop the lid back on and let the fish go for 5-10 minutes, then stir in the sour cream or crème fraîche and serve in deep bowls. Or plates, if you like to live life on the edge.

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This stew photographed very poorly for the following reasons:

  1. I am not very good at photography.
  2. It’s very dark and rainy.
  3. It’s hard to make stew look good under any circumstances.
  4. Did I mention that I’m not very good at photography? Excellent.

But it tasted great, and you should give it a go so that you may know the joys of one pot cooking, as I do. Honestly, if I had my way everything would be cooked in one pot. I cook pasta in the sauce like some kind of heathen because I hate washing up so much. I think the Italians have a bounty on my head.

I hope it’s less rainy and gross where you are – if not, wrap up warm, use an umbrella, and avoid lonely moors. I’ve seen films, okay.

Hattie


*So I’m told – I don’t actually like tea. I KNOW. I’m so sorry. Please stop shouting.

**Frozen spinach is neat as all heck. It’s already cooked so you just throw the bundles/nests into soups and stews and they’re done in no time at all. It’s also a hell of a lot cheaper and longer-lasting than fresh spinach.

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