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Lentil stew with ground beef makes a wonderful winter supper

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We have so little rain in Southern California that when a cold, rainy weekend comes along, it’s nice to be home to enjoy it. It’s even nicer when the house is filled with the aroma of a hearty stew bubbling in the crockpot throughout the day. Fortunately, when the big storm finally hit, I had all the ingredients needed for the beefy lentil stew below, so I didn’t have to leave my cozy cottage to go grocery shopping in the rain. But I realized as I gleefully loaded up my slow cooker with what promised to be (and actually was) a delightful little dinner, that I had bought most of the ingredients at Tropicana Market in Duarte earlier in the week. This small, family-owned grocery carries a great variety of fresh meats, produce, Mediterranean foods of all types, and bulk dry goods like the lentils and red chili peppers used in this recipe. Thank you, Tropicana! And thanks to the clouds for bringing us much needed water and inspiring a dish that’s perfect for a stormy evening supper. Serve it with fresh corn bread, dark rye, or cheesy ranch sesame bread to soak up every saucy drop.

Beefy Lentil Stew

Ingredients

· 1 to 1½ lbs. ground beef

· ½ cup chopped onion

· 3 ribs celery, diced

· 3 carrots, sliced

· 1 qt. beef stock (make your own stock and avoid MSG)

· 1 qt. V8 vegetable juice (or equivalent)

· 1 tsp. each of salt and seasoned salt

· 1 clove minced garlic or 1 tsp. granulated garlic

· 2 cups dry lentils, rinsed

· 1 Tbsp. molasses or brown sugar

· 1 tsp. dried oregano or marjoram

· 1 bay leaf

· 2 dried or fresh red chilis

Putting it all together

Brown the ground beef and onion in a skillet (really brown the beef for richer flavor). Place all ingredients in your crockpot and cover. Cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or on Low for 8 to 10 hours.

Feeds 6 as a main dish

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