Something Different
Week of: June 18, 2012
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

This Lentil Stew Will Make Your Palate Dance!

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Meatless Mondays and a growing emphasis on eating a mainly plant-based diet have ignited a skyrocketing interest in finding meatless dishes that are appealing and satiating to everyone.

Ethnic dishes are often good models for meatless meals, thanks to their bold flavors and nutritional balance. Greek moussaka is a robust dish that appeared ideal to adapt to meatless – and simplify – for a weeknight dinner. Leftovers would also be perfect for lunch or tweaked to make a second dinner.

For protein, I chose lentils to replace the usual lamb or ground beef. Moving from a baked casserole layered with béchamel sauce to a one-pot version showered with tangy feta transformed the classic moussaka from a lasagna-like dish with several components into an easy everyday skillet supper. To further build flavor in this re-envisioned dish, I added pomegranate juice to the classic Greek combination of tomato, oregano and cinnamon. The dusky flavor added by the cinnamon lingering in the background drew raves from tasters. Finally, I tossed in diced zucchini and sweet peppers for color and contrast, making this hearty stew an even more complete one-dish dinner with a serving of vegetables in each portion.

Lentil Stew

Greek Lentil Stew

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow sweet pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • l tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2½ cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 medium zucchini squash, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

In small Dutch oven or large, heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sweet pepper and sauté for 1 minute. Cover pot tightly and cook over medium heat for 4 minutes so vegetables let their juices. Mix in garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.

Mix in lentils, oregano and cinnamon and cook until seasoning is fragrant, 30 seconds. Pour in 2 cups of broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer lentils for 25 minutes. Add squash, tomato paste, juice and remaining broth. Simmer stew for 15 minutes, or until lentils are done to your taste. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Let stew sit, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, divided among soup bowls, with 1 tablespoon of feta sprinkled over each serving.

Makes 4 servings. Serving: 1¼ cup.

Per serving: 275 calories, 6 g fat (2 g sat fat), 40 g carbohydrates,
18 g protein 17 g fiber, 497 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

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