Apr 6, 2015

dump dinner: lentil and kale stew

Since my new book, Vegan Bowls, B&N / Amazon, will be published soon (although not soon enough, if you ask me!), I am no longer really focusing on bowl recipes - which are flavor-packed complete meals in a bowl. Well, that's not really true as bowl foods are simply amazing because they are no-brainers - you don't have to think of something else to make to balance out the meal.

The truth is that I am still making bowls, just not telling the family that they are "bowls." As you can imagine, during recipe development and testing, bowls were at every meal, at least 3 meals, but at times up to 4 or 5 meals!

Thanks to the advice of Tami Noyes, of The Great Vegan Protein cookbook, I am the proud owner of an Instant Pot pressure cooker. If you purchase one, get the coupon code - worth around $50!

This machine is amazing! My favorite aspect of this thing is that the pot is stainless steel. I had an electric pressure cooker in the past which I used only seldom because the pot was nonstick. This is an electric pressure cooker that is also a slow cooker, steamer and yogurt maker. I love it!

Now that Vegan Bowls is almost ready, I can get back to experimenting and cooking with my Instant Pot. Of course, you don't need an Instant Pot in order to cook pressure cooker recipes, but since I have it, I will be using it more often now.

I'd like to start a series of Astonishingly Easy Dinners or Dump Dinners using either a slow cooker or pressure cooker.  I recently saw a commercial for Dump Dinners and looked though the preview and the reviews on Amazon. Just as the commercial indicated, the recipes were based on processed ingredients and were nothing to write home about.

Still, I liked the idea of just dumping food into a pot and letting it go. There are some awesome books on the market now, like Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson, if you are looking for a great slow cooker book, but I'd like to start a series that is even easier than Robin's. Quite the challenge, I know, because I also want to make everything taste like you really spent a lot of time preparing things.

Dump Dinners is not a new concept, as evidenced by a quick Amazon search:


Unfortunately, not only are they not vegan, but the super processed aspect - dumping frozen raviolis and jarred tomato sauce into a pot, for instance - turned me off. I want more scratch-made recipes that are healthy, use less plastic (the plastic that ingredients are packaged in, especially processed ingredients) and are made with more whole foods. My first offering in this new series I'll temporarily dub "Dump Dinners" is French Lentil and Kale Stew.

French Lentil and Kale Stew
Serves 4
Prep Time: 8 minutes of chopping
Cook Time: 35 minutes

4 medium carrots, chopped
3 spring onions, or 1 large yellow or red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable broth or 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup French lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 pound kale, tough stems removed and chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
Sea salt and black pepper

1. Heat a large pot over medium heat or set the Instant Pot to saute. Add the carrots, onions, garlic and jalapeno to the pot. Add splashes of vegetable broth as needed to keep the vegetables from burning. Stir in the bay leaves and cumin seeds. Stir and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Add the lentils, kale and broth. Cover and cook over medium heat until the lentils and kale are tender, about 30 minutes. Alternatively, using a pressure cooker, cook the stew for 20 minutes under High Pressure.
3. Season the soup with salt and black pepper, as needed. Serve with whole grain bread and/or cayenne pepper.

Quick Tip: Chop near the stove or the pressure cooker. If using oil, add the oil to the pot first. Add the vegetables as they are chopped. If using vegetable broth to saute, add splashes of the broth as needed.

© 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.


  1. This looks good. Is spinach a good substitute for the kale?

    1. Sure is! Spinach is one of those "safe" greens because it is so familiar. Make sure to add it only at the end and only cook it to wilt as it needs very little time. Kale or other hearty greens need more cooking. Thanks for the visit!


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