Lentil Stew With Meatballs For Babs

One of my most faithful food enthusiasts is Babs, on the staff of St. Barthelemew's Church, where my wife Christina is a deacon. Babs particularly enjoys lentils. This recipe is for her, since she asked for a recipe when I made a version of the dish a while ago.

This recipe serves six generously. Accompany with rice or brown rice.

Lentil Stew with Meatballs
1 pound tan/green lentils (supermarket type)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-large onion, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
5 cups water
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Chopped parsley for garnish

2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup quick oatmeal
1/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Soak lentils in hot water 20 minutes, then drain.

Meanwhile, fry onion and celery in oil until limp and starting to turn golden.

Add garlic and fry one minute, stirring. Add drained lentils, wine, dry herbs and spices plus water. Bring to a boil and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 or more minutes, depending on the variety.

Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes.

Prepare meatballs by mixing all ingredients together well. Shape mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls, wetting hands from time to time with water.

Drop them into simmering lentil mixture. Be careful not to stir, or the meatballs will break. Rather, shake and swirl the pot to move the meatballs. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, shaking and swirling pot several times.

When meatballs seem to be cooking, stir them carefully. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Taste stew and add salt, if needed.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley when serving.