Did you wake up to a scene like this?
There's frost covering the grass, trees, lawn chairs and table. While this will be melted off in a couple of hours, the rest of the day will still be brisk. And you likely will be filling it with fall chores like raking leaves, chopping wood, cleaning gutters...Or maybe you'll be lucky and take a wonderful hike in the woods or just take an extended walk with the dog? You won't want to be inside with this brisk, clean and fresh day facing you.
But you'll likely have a big appetite for something hearty by the end of the day. This is soup and stew weather! And if you don't want to sit indoors all day cooking, then let your crockpot work while you play outside.
You might want to try my variation on “Hoppin' John”. The traditional Hoppin' John, which I've posted on for the last two years, is a dish made for January 1st, with ham and black-eyed peas and cajun-styled seasonings, cooked in a stew pot on the stove, and is served over long-grain rice.Today's equally hearty and spicy variation uses common lentils, and is served over brown Basmati rice. Better yet, it's made in the crockpot.
Crockpot Hoppin' John with Lentils
Saute together in olive oil, until softened:
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ Spanish onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced (optional)
In the crockpot, add:
1 (14.5 oz) can of Rotello diced tomatoes with chilis, and the juice
1 (14.5-16 oz) can of chicken broth
1- 1.5 lb ham steak chopped (or equiv. leftover ham) chop in larger pieces, not diced.
1/3 lb. dried lentils
1 cup frozen, fresh or canned corn (I had a frozen corn, black bean,chil blend that I used)
Add the above sauteed vegetables to the crockpot.
Stir in the following seasonings:
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning blend ( or equiv basil, oregano, thyme)
1 tsp. ground Cumin
Few to several shakes of Cayenne pepper. (This is essential but your taste preferences will have to determine how much heat you like)
1 bay leaf (place at the end so you know where to find it and pull out before serving)
Don't add salt until it's cooked and you can then decide if you need more.
Let this cook for at least 6 hours on “low” , or more if you're still out of the house.
Serve “as is” or make some basmati rice and ladle the stew over it.
I used Lundgren's brown basmati rice in my rice cooker. Note that this rice has both the USDA Organic label and, in the lower right corner, a separate “verified non-GMO” label. Since so much of our rice is now GMO, it's worth looking for these labels if you are concerned about the status of the rice you're buying.
Now, curl up in front of the fire with a bowl of this unconventional stew. (I think this may become my new “traditional” Hoppin' John.)