Hearty Lentil and Sausage Stew

Lentils take less time to cook than other dried beans and therefore make a fine candidate for the slow cooker. They are, however, bland, so it is your job to doctor them up with smoked sausage, cumin, a cinnamon stick, and so on. Then, when this heady stew emerges from the cooker, the lentils will have taken on an exotic new flavor. An added benefit of the slow cooker is that you arrive home from a long day to find dinner waiting and your kitchen fragrant. That's something you will never get from a zapped frozen dinner.

2 cups dry lentils, picked over and rinsed
1  medium-size onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 (14.5 ounces ) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped pre-peeled baby carrots
4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or  water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1  bay leaf
1  {cinnamon stick} (about 3-inches)
1/2 pound reduced-fat smoked pork or  beef sausage, cut into 2-inch pieces
Place the lentils, onion, garlic, tomatoes, carrots, chicken broth, cumin, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick in a 4 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir to combine. Place the sausage pieces on top. Cover the cooker and cook the lentils on low heat until they have absorbed all the liquid and are tender, 8 hours. If possible, check during the last hour of cooking to see if the lentils need more liquid. Add up to 1 cup more, if they seem too dry. To serve, remove and discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick and spoon the stew into deep bowls.

Ease of Preparation: Easy

Preparation Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 8 hr

Servings: 6

Recipe By: Anne Byrn

From:  The Dinner Doctor
Used with permission of Workman Publishing Company

Chef Suggestions
Add pre-seasoned diced tomatoes if you like.

Chicken broth gives this recipe more body than mere water, so even if you don't have the full four cups, add as much as you can and make up the difference with water.

You can omit the sausage or add a cup of chopped cooked ham instead.