Everyone needs a rich and hearty stew in their life. But many stews made with beans or legumes from scratch can take hours to prepare and result in unsatisfying gassiness. Not this one! I’ll share some effective tips for preparing lentils that will beat the bloat. Then, turning them into a quick vegan lentil stew that will significantly cut meal prep time in half on busy week nights. Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
Lentils are so delicious and satisfying. They are rather nutritious as they are high in protein, fibre and minerals. They are very inexpensive, versatile and tastes a lot better when cooked from scratch. Some of my favorite ways to use them in many recipes include my Meatless Mushroom Lentil Meatballs, Vegan Rice Burgers, casseroles, soups and of course stews.
There are many different types of lentils, but my preferred types are the green or brown ones. They both have a nice earthy and nutty flavour and hold their shape well after cooking. However, brown lentils cook quicker than the green types. For this recipe, you can use either.
Effective ways to prepare and cook lentils to prevent bloating
Lentils actually do not require pre-soaking and can be cooked on the stovetop in 15 to 20 mins for brown lentils and up to 45 mins for green lentils. My main issue with cooking beans and legumes without soaking is that they can cause bloating and gassiness. Not quite a pleasant experience and many of you probably avoid beans and legumes completely because of this.
Lentils, like beans, could make you gassy because of contain certain starches that the good bacteria in our gut loves. They feed on these starches, releasing gasses that make us bloated (source). Despite that, lentils are quite healthy and we shouldn’t miss out on the great taste and benefits.
But I do understand the frustration of dealing with bloat. For me, even short soaking times of a few hours just isn’t enough. Soaking for at least 8 hours or overnight is preferred. However, the best method that has worked for me to reduce the bloating and gassy effects of lentils completely is sprouting.
Sprouting is excellent at boosting the nutrients in beans and legumes while making them a lot easier to digest (source). Lentils are some of the easiest to sprout. In the right conditions, sprouts can be formed in as little as 1 day.
How to sprout lentils
- Rinse 1 cup (200 g) lentils to remove any debris or dirt.
- Soak in 3 cups (708 ml) of lukewarm water. Place in a warm area of your kitchen and leave overnight.
- In the morning, drain lentils in a large strainer or colander, then place it over a bowl to continue draining. It’s very important to not have the lentils touching water in the bowl while sprouting as this can result in spoilage.
- Loosely cover the lentils with a damp kitchen towel and place the bowl in a sunny area of your home to begin sprouting.
- Every 3 to 4 hours rinse and drain the lentils to keep them from drying out or to prevent mold formation. Rinse more frequently if the temperature and humidity is high.
- Stop rinsing once the “tails” start to appear. They usually start that afternoon but can take up to 2 days if the temperature is too low, especially during winter. If that’s the case you can try placing the bowl in your oven with only the oven light turned on, or in a warm closet. I haven’t attempted this myself but it’s worth a try.
After the final rinse, the lentils can be cooked. Use just enough fresh water to cover the top. The recommended cooking times are 15 to 20 mins on the stovetop and 8 to 12 mins in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Remember green lentils usually take longer to cook than the brown ones so times will vary for both. Lentils are cooked when they still hold their shape but are not crunchy when eaten. They also shouldn’t be hard to press between 2 fingers.
Weekly Meal Prep Tip: You can sprout and cook a larger batch to greatly reduce your total prep time for this recipe, especially during busy week nights. I usually sprout 2 cups (400 g) of dried lentils which is more than enough to last me a week of dinners.
After cooking, lentils can be stored in smaller containers and frozen for up to a month. The finished lentil stew can be stored in the fridge and should be eaten within 5 to 7 days.
Alternative to sprouting
If you are not up to trying sprouting at home or can’t seem to get it right, then no worries! There are a few brands that offer sprouted, dried lentils. These are not easily found in stores in my area so I would order them on Amazon from time to time. One brand I’ve personally tried and like is TruRoots. They are great to have on hand and take about 10 minutes to cook.
This is perfect for throwing together this simple vegan lentil stew in a crockpot or Instant Pot. Just add 1 cup (200 g) lentils to the pot, 3 cups (708 ml) water and the remaining ingredients. Then, set it and forget it! It’s definitely the fastest way to make this recipe from scratch with minimal effort and without the gassy aftermath. This makes about 2 1/2 cups (500 g) of cooked lentils.
Now for the recipe. You can serve this stew with potatoes, rice, noodles or pasta. Here I served it with some kuzu noodles back when I was living in Japan. They are low calorie, gluten free noodles made from potato starch. I’ve also had rice noodles with this dish.
More comforting stew recipes :
Quick Vegan Lentil Stew
- 2 cups cooked lentils*, (400g)
- 2 tsps oil
- 1 carrot, medium
- 1 onion, medium
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tomato, medium
- 1 red bell pepper, small
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp maple syrup, or other sweetener
- 2 tsps all-purpose seasoning, or to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 handful fresh basil, optional
- 1 cup water, (236ml)
- Chop the carrot, onion, tomato and bell pepper and mince the garlic.
- Heat the oil in a pot then add carrot and onion.
- Once browned, add garlic, sweetener, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, tomatoes, all-purpose seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Allow sweetener to caramelize (darken a bit) then stir in lentils.
- Add water, cover pot, lower heat and allow it to simmer for 8-10 mins.
- Adjust seasoning if needed. Stir in bell pepper and fresh basil then remove from heat.
- Serve with potatoes, rice or pasta.
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