Recipe: Lentils and Quinoa with Tomato, Fennel and Pepper

doneThis is another random pantry special that turned out very pleasingly.  It started off being based on Diana Henry’s recipe for lentils with peppers, but then it mutated into a one-pot dish involving quinoa and black lentils instead of red, and sun-dried tomatoes that I’d reconstituted and forgotten to do anything with, and oh, look, I have fennel that needs using, and… you get the picture.

It’s very healthy and full of protein and other good things – just perfect for lunch on a cold Melbourne day.

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olive oil
1 red onion
1 smallish fennel bulb
6-8 frying peppers or 3 capsicums
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp coriander, ground
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chilli flakes, if you dare
200 g puy lentils
500 ml stock
400 g tinned tomatoes
3/4 cup dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes that have been soaked in warm water for at least half an hour
150 g quinoa
a handful chopped fresh coriander
yoghurt or soy yoghurt to serve, optional

Now what will you do with it?

Slice the onion and fennel, and then chop the slices into thirds or quarters.  Heat the oil in a largeish saucepan, and add the fennel and onion.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally.  As the onion and fennel cook, chop the peppers, and add to the pot.  Crush the garlic, and add that too.


Once everything is fairly soft, add the spices and stir for a minute.  Add the lentils and stir for another minute or two, before adding the stock, sun-dried tomatoes and tinned tomatoes.


Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer over low heat for approximately half an hour.


Add the quinoa and stir to mix.  Cover again, and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the quinoa starts unravelling.  (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, quinoa grains seem to be a very tightly closed spiral – as they cook, they uncurl a bit, so that the spiral is visible.  It’s very pretty, in my view, especially if you use red quinoa.)

Stir in the fresh coriander and serve, ideally with yoghurt or a dairy-free yoghurt-like thing, because this is fairly spicy and needs something cooling to go with it.



This recipe is already vegan (assuming you use vegetable stock, which I’m sure you could have figured out without my help), gluten-free, low GI and nut-free.  We have a winner!  It’s not so good on fructose, though, because of the onions and the lentils.

You could vary the spices in a variety of directions – a mixture like garam masala would be lovely, I think, or you could go persian with pomegranate molasses and saffron – and of course you could vary the type of lentil or grain you put with it.  Red or green lentils will require a shorter cooking time and will go more mushy.  Rice will probably need a little less time than quinoa, unless you use brown or wild rice, in which case, I’d add it at the same time as the lentils.  You could even skip the lentils entirely and use tinned chickpeas, in which case you could pretty much skip the stock and the chickpea cooking time, and just add the quinoa at the same time so that it could cook in the juice from the tomatoes.


Honestly, you could do pretty much anything with this and it would still work.  It’s that sort of recipe.

I’m submitting this to my Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food – Let There Be Legumes! Challenge.  It’s open until June 1 – come and join in!



One year ago: Recipe: Friendly Lemon, Raspberry and Coconut Cupcakes
Two years ago: Kitchen Chemistry: Anthocyanins and Blue Food
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2 comments for “Recipe: Lentils and Quinoa with Tomato, Fennel and Pepper

  1. May 23, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    This is the sort of thing I’d throw together but not add something like fennel and get a ho-hum dish instead of an exciting one. Thanks for the idea 🙂

    • Catherine
      May 24, 2013 at 10:09 am

      … actually, this really was something I randomly threw together, the fennel just happened to be there…

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