Tonight’s dinner-making was a good one for smells. As the olive oil slowly warmed in the pot, I stood over it, breathing it in. I added the garlic and onions, the carrots and herbs, and the kitchen was filled with it. I layered flavors in the stew pot–sherry, stock, sundried tomato paste–transfered to a pie tin, and then placed the crust on top of it. The smell of it while in the oven was garlicky, buttery, and completely enticing. I did the dishes to distract myself.
One of the real pleasures of cooking is the enchantment of all your senses. Your fingertips roll in flour and liquid to make dough and can tell when it’s firm enough or too sticky. You hear the garlic and onions sizzle as they hit the pan and you know the oil has reached the right temperature. You see that the crust has browned and you know it’s ready to come out of the oven. You smell the butter. You taste the butter. You melt.
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 c. fresh parsley, diced
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
3 whole thyme springs
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 discs
3/4 c. sherry
2 tbsp. sundried tomato paste
2 c. stock
1/2 bag frozen spinach
1 pie crust (pate brise or store bought)
1 egg white
1 tsp. water
Warm olive oil over medium heat in a good-sized pot. Saute garlic, onions, parsley, and salt and pepper for about 2 minutes, until they release their aromas and begin to become translucent. Add the carrots, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs and saute for another 5 minutes, watching carefully so that nothing burns. If that looks to be a danger, turn the heat down a bit.
Add the lentils and cover them with the oil and veggies. Deglaze the pan with the sherry and let it reduce by half. Add stock and sundried tomato paste and bring to a boil, then lower to medium. Cook for about 15 minutes, then add the spinach.
At this point, you should preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Continue cooking the lentils and spinach for another 5 minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste. If you used canned stock, you will probably not need much salt. Transfer to a pie tin.
Roll out pie crust and place on top of the pie tin, folding the edges so that you create a nice latticed edge around the dish. Cut steam vents in the crust. Mix egg white and water together then brush the mixture over the crust. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden and the whole house smells like butter.