Joni Sare, cooking instructor

Lentil Stew with Kumquats

I’ve had many “firsts” this past year — including just yesterday — giving a 45-minute inspirational cooking and healthy eating talk to 100 ten to twelve year-old girl scouts. And creating recipes for a weekly newsletter is just as exciting for me, albiet the girls’ high-energy. I’m honored that Peter, from Monta Vista Market in Cupertino has asked me to share recipes using produce specials, new arrivals and featured produce and dry goods at his store. The recipes will be here, in his newsletters and on his website.
A couple of dishes came to mind when I saw the list of this week’s produce specials:

• Stir fry green beans with tomatoes and mushrooms

• Braised sliced asparagus and sliced apples

• Chutney-like chopped salad with kumquats, tomatoes and apples


My challenge, tho (that I gave to myself) was to use ALL the produce on sale this week in one recipe. And with the brisk weather we are having I was called to create a stew. Here’s the list of the produce on sale this week:
  • Green beans
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • White mushrooms
  • Kumquats
  • Asparagus
  • Gala apples
The kumquats punctuate this dish in a very exotic way. Stewed kumquats are heavenly, sweetened a bit with dates, cinnamon and vanilla, or in a savory dish like this one. You’ll find many recipes online. Here’s my recipe, I think you’ll find it unique, easy to make, and very tasty.

Lentil Stew with Kumquats

1. In a soup pot, on medium heat, cook for 10 minutes, stir often:
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 large rib celery, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced  (green, red, orange; or poblano, or green pasilla chile pepper)
2. Meanwhile, slice these ingredients, add to the carrot mixture, cook for 10 minutes, stir often:
  • 1 basket cherry tomatoes
  • 1 basket mushrooms
  • 1 Gala apple
3. Meanwhile, slice these veggies, add to the pot:
  • 1 large handful green beans, cut to 1-inch long pieces
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, cut to 1-inch long pieces

4. Move the mixture aside to expose the bottom center of the pot. Add your choice of oil and herbs, seeds. Allow the oil to heat before adding the flavors (herbs, spices and or seeds) and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes before stirring into the entire mixture. Pick one –or more– of the following, or choose from your pantry:

  • 1 tbls coconut oil (refined or unrefined)
  • 1 tbls sesame oil
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • 1 tbls grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbls ghee, or butter
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • 2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
  • 2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 2 tsp Panch Poron
  • 2 tsp curry
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced; and or 2-inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 jar Curry Love’s Banana Ginger Curry (no need to add oil)
5. Then add and stir well:
  • 4 cups broth
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 5 kumquats, quartered, seeds removed
6. Cook 20 minutes or until the lentils are done and the veggies are soft.
Notes, tips, tricks, ideas:
  • MVM sells “Sprouted Green Lentils” by truRootsTM. This is a supreme food, the sprouted lentils have higher protein content and lower carbohydrate content. And it will cook faster than non-sprouted lentils. They also sell sprouted rice, which is an alternative to the lentils.
  • The oil in this recipe is added right before adding the herbs, spices, seeds. In fact, the herbs, spices, seeds are allowed to cook in the heated oil to bring out more flavors. Many flavor compounds, especially in seeds, are fat soluble — meaning that fat is needed to extract the flavor compounds from the seed or dried herb.
  • All flavors mentioned are available at MVM.
  • Option: To add the flavors at the very end, after cooking the entire dish. Remove half the mixture before adding the flavors so that you can flavor the second half another way. Best to heat the oil and herbs/seeds in a small fry pan, on medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, and then add it to the mixture.
  • Option: add tofu or cooked chicken, lamb, beef. If adding fish, add raw during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Idea: to remove half the mixture first, so that the next day you can add a different meat, different flavor.
  • Where’r the onions, you say? Well, I decided to use bell peppers in the mirepoix instead of the usual onion in order to create a more sweet base, mostly to counter the sour of the kumquats. Onions, leeks, shallots are welcome, yet I encourage you to try it without, I think you’ll be surprised at the subtle difference, yet intriguing flavor.

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