The genius Oaxacan tradition of combining mild peppers and briny green olives is here turned up a notch in heat and used to flavor a pile of comforting, nourishing, and affordable brown lentils. If you're sensitive to heat, feel free to substitute part of a poblano pepper for the jalapeno, or (for the more traditional route) use half a banana pepper. Add a chunk of crusty bread, and you have dinner. (And a serving of simply dressed salad greens, if you're feeling ambitious.)
Heart of palm adds texture and a bit of brightness. If you're looking to save money, try substituting chopped boiled cauliflower, but you may want to add a bit more lemon juice. Or to better suit chilly weather, substitute cooked cubed potato. Any way you tweak it, you get a heap of protein in a comforting, tomato-infused pot that feeds a crowd, or keeps you in easy-to-pack lunches all week long.
Spicy Lentils with Tomato, Heart of Palm, and Green Olives
1 TBSP olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno, stemmed and finely chopped (seeded, if desired)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted, if possible)
2 1/2 cups water
1 no-salt-added vegetable bouillon cube
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp fine sea or kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups dried brown lentils
1 cup canned/jarred sliced heart of palm
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, drained
1 lemon, halved
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion begins to brown, 3-5 minutes.
Carefully add canned tomatoes with juice and deglaze pan. Add water, bouillon cube, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, and stir to help cube dissolve. Once dissolved, add lentils, and stir to combine. Cover, bring back to a simmer, reduce heat to low (being sure to maintain a simmer), and cook until lentils are tender, 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse heart of palm in a sieve and set aside to let drain well before chopping into small bite-size pieces. Roughly chop green olives.
When lentils are tender, remove from heat. Stir in heart of palm and olives. Squeeze half the lemon over the pot, and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning, if needed. Serve immediately with crusty bread.