Spanish-Style Lentils with Spinach

Here’s how to take a simple pot of lentils in a few different global directions.
TIME 45 to 60 minutes
MAKES 4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ pound smoked chorizo, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (pimentón) or ½ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 bay leaves
½ cup fruity red wine
2 cups water or chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, or more as needed
1 pound spinach, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Put the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the chorizo and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the sausage begins to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and paprika and continue to stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

2 Stir in the lentils, bay leaves, wine, and water; raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary to keep the beans submerged, until the lentils are no longer crunchy but are still a little too firm to eat, 20 to 30 minutes. (You can make the dish to this point up to 2 days ahead; gently reheat the lentils before continuing.) Fish out the bay leaves.

3 Stir in the spinach, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and keep cooking until the lentils are fully tender, the spinach is wilted, and the mixture is saucy and thick, another 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot or warm.

  • French-Style Lentils with Peas: Use the green French “Le Puy” lentils here if you can find them. Substitute chopped thick-cut bacon for the chorizo and frozen peas for the spinach. Skip the paprika. When you stir in the peas in Step 3, add 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon.
  • North African–Style Lentils with Carrots: Skip the chorizo and use 4 medium chopped carrots instead of the spinach. For the paprika, substitute 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. In Step 2, replace the wine and 1 cup of the water with 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, including the juice. Continue with the recipe.

  • Trust your teeth—not the clock—to tell you when the lentils are ready. (Always good advice!)

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