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Lentil Stew Over Couscous

written by Marsha Seidelman, M.D.

As we move toward colder weather, there's nothing like a prepare-ahead hot meal to warm the soul.  This season, I plan to increase my use of the slow cooker in order to simplify food prep and minimize take-out. I'd like to help you do the same. Almost always, when I use a recipe meant for the slow cooker, I ignore any directions to saute ingredients before adding them or adding ingredients at different times. The way I see it, this is not going to be a gourmet meal. This is meant to save time. If I don't get the most taste out of my spices or some items are softer than they are meant to be, oh well!  In this dish, the lentils provide the protein needed for a main dish.

This stew will keep well in the refrigerator for up to one week. In fact today, at one week, it tastes better than before. It can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. I find that the glass containers with snap-on lids that are available in a set at Costco do the trick.  Defrost and serve for an instant healthy lunch or dinner.  So, very little work produces multiple meals.  Good deal!

Makes 12 servings
Ingredients:
3 cups dried lentils (1 pound), rinsed and sorted
3 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth (I often use 365 Brand)
14 oz diced tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1-2 limes to add to taste when serving (remember to roll your lime firmly on the countertop to maximize the juice it produces).

4-5 cups hot cooked couscous

Directions:
1) Put all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Be sure there is plenty of room for the ingredients to expand without overflowing. Stir to blend. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until vegetables are tender.

2) Stir in oil and vinegar. Squeeze lime to taste - it really brightens the flavor. Serve over couscous with lime wedges on the side - each person can add to their personal taste.

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