The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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Smoky Lentils with Pomegranate and Mint

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Level: Easy

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Description

When I made this dish I originally had a run-of-the-mill stewed lentil thing in mind. Then I just let my imagination run wild, grabbing whatever sounded good from my fridge and pantry. With ingredients like pomegranate molasses, cumin, smoked paprika, and fresh mint, it ended up tasting like a Middle Eastern version of baked beans. Savory, smoky, and complex-flavored with an underlying hint of sweetness, the sauce is killer.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 pound Smoked Turkey (basically Turkey Ham), Cubed Into 1/2-inch Pieces
  • 8 cups Low-sodium Chicken Or Vegetable Stock, Warmed
  • 1 can (15 Oz. Size) No-salt-added Diced Tomatoes, With Juices
  • 2 whole Medium-large Onions, Chopped
  • 3 whole Large Carrots, Scrubbed And Chopped
  • 3 whole Large Stalks Celery, Chopped
  • 5 cloves (Large) Garlic, Minced
  • 1 pound Brown Lentils, Rinsed And Picked Over To Remove Any Stones Or Pieces Of Dirt
  • 4 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Pomegranate Molasses
  • 1-½ teaspoon Cumin
  • 1-½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Pomegranate Vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons Torn Fresh Mint Leaves

Preparation

1. Heat the oil in a large lidded pot over medium-high heat; add the turkey and cook until starting to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the stock, diced tomato, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, lentils, tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.
3. Bring up to a boil over high heat, then cover the pot, turn the heat down to simmer, and cook until the veggies and lentils are tender, about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. (To let the dish thicken a bit, remove the lid during the last 10 minutes and cook uncovered.)
4. Turn off the heat and add in the pomegranate vinegar to taste (see note below).
5. Serve with the fresh mint sprinkled on top.

Notes:
Pomegranate vinegar: A bit of acid (such as vinegar or lemon juice) really brightens up a slow-cooked dish like this. Add the vinegar 1 tablespoon at a time, since the total amount you use will depend on the particular brand’s level of sweet/tart flavor; I ended up using 4 tablespoons of a good-quality pomegranate vinegar. Pomegranate vinegar can be purchased at gourmet or specialty food stores; if you can’t find it, you can look for another mildly sweet, fruity vinegar to substitute. A good quality red wine vinegar will also work well in this dish.

Vegan option: Omit the smoked turkey and increase the smoked paprika to 2 teaspoons. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken.

Serving suggestion: We like to eat this dish with a kind of Middle Eastern flatbread called taboon; it’s quite similar to Indian naan, so this makes a good substitute if you can’t find taboon.

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