Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Italian Lentil and Barley Stew

As you all know, I have been diving--head first--into the world of crockpot cooking.  Let me tell you--I don't know why I didn't do it sooner.  Really, I don't!!!  I have had one issue--mainly the heat of my crockpot.  I've read it's not supposed to boil, but on high, mine does.  Plus, if I leave it on low all day, the food gets overcooked (mainly rice).  Thankfully, my crockpot has a warm setting which is hot enough to cook food.  Strange but true!  Moral of the story--learn your equipment!

So after finding at least 50 recipes for the crockpot, I've been working through them.  So far we have loved 80% of them which is a pretty good success rate.  I am loving the crockpot because I can add more legumes and whole grains like barley into our diets without the husband freaking out....  (and I can use less meat, but don't tell him!)  I saw this recipe for Italian Lentil and Barley Soup, but after reading the comments and using my cool skills, I came up with this version.

{Italian Lentil and Barley Stew}

{Getting everything that needed cutting the night before done}

{Throw everything into the crockpot in the morning}

{Add parsley and vinegar at the end}

Italian Lentil and Barley Stew

Serves 4

1 cup lentils
1/2 cup hulled barley
4 oz country ham, diced
8 oz smoked sausage, sliced
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
1-15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (sub 1 tablespoon dried and add at the beginning of cooking)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  1. Put everything in a crockpot.
  2. Turn crockpot to warm/low for 6-8 hours.
  3. Add fresh parsley and vinegar about 30 minutes before service.
Why the cider vinegar?  Because it gives the recipe a nice little tang!  I wasn't sure about it either, so I tried a before and after taste (what could it hurt right?) in a small bowl, and I was blown away about how much better it tastes.  Just do it!  Please?

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