Purple Autumn: Black Lentil Stew with Beets & Fig Balsamic Vinegar

What a beautiful evening it is outside tonight as I write this! The air is still warm enough to be comfortable, but a cool breeze is coaxing the still-vibrant summer vines to dance tonight under the almost full moon. Katydids and crickets are busy making "a little night music" while toads, from tiny to plump, jump from sidewalk to lawn, entertaining our little dog as my husband I stroll with her on our evening walk.

Fall is coming, with farms across the Bucks county countryside boasting an abundance of orange pumpkins, yellow and green gourds, rosy apples and rich russet Indian corn. Maple trees along our picturesque country roads decorate fields and farms with deepest pink and garnet. And for a couple of weeks every October, the woods behind our houses look painted over completely in gold with leaves both fallen and still clinging to the sassafras trees.

The color that has caught Yelena's artist eye this autumn however is royal purple. She's found it all over our garden, from the exotic Passion flowers and high summer's Cleomes and Persian Shield, to our Hyacinth beans; the towering vine laden with gorgeous violet pods.

Autumn's purple produce has also found its way into Yelena's latest dish - the rich sweetness of fig balsamic vinegar and beets with earthy lentils combining in a delicious and perfectly spiced dish - hearty yet light and with a wonderful aroma! A lovely accompaniment to roasted meats or satisfying as a main course. This is one of my favorites of Yelena's recipes. I know you will enjoy it as much as we have!

article by Debra Pinciotti, our dear friend and neighbor 

Serves: about 6


  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced 
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced 
  • 2 medium beets, peeled and diced 
  • 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups black beluga lentils (soaked overnight if possible)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. fig balsamic vinegar (I highly recommend The Ancient Olive store)
  • fresh chives to serve
  • sour cream to serve (optional)


In a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, carrots, beets and sauté about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable broth/water, lentils and seasonings. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are almost tender, about 25 minutes (less if you soaked the lentils overnight).

Add the fig balsamic vinegar, taste for salt, add more if necessary, and with the lead off continue simmering on low for 10 more minutes.

Stir in the chopped chives. Ladle the stew into warmed bowls and serve immediately with sour cream.

inspired by this recipe


October 8, 2014 at 1:59 AM  

I love your new creation! My pantry is full of purple foods. And I have all the ingredients and was about to ask you whether you are using celery ribs or celery roots, but I got a very close look at your picture and it looks like celery ribs.

Really nice!

Greetings - Dominique

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...
October 8, 2014 at 3:07 AM  

A beautiful stew! So comforting and delicious.



Angie Schneider said...
October 8, 2014 at 3:43 AM  

Those purple beans are really cool! This is a satisfying and delicious stew.

Medeja said...
October 8, 2014 at 4:25 AM  

I love the color and the ingredients!

The Ancient Olive said...
October 8, 2014 at 6:03 AM  

Yet another wonderful recipe to try! Thank you for the beautiful color.

La Table De Nana said...
October 8, 2014 at 8:35 AM  

Love the colors:)
Is the passion flower a Perennial in Buck's County Yelena?
Here it is an annual..

Te de Ternura said...
October 8, 2014 at 11:53 AM  

Tomo buena nota de esta receta tan deliciosa YELENA...
Es muy de mi estilo, y no voy a tardar demasiado en prepararla.

theroadtoserendipity said...
October 8, 2014 at 2:42 PM  

What an absolute knockout of a post. A conglomeration of lovely things from 2 lovely neighbours. I adore the recipe and will be making it ASAP, the photos of all of the purple gorgeousness in your garden are drop dead amazing. You have a true talent with a camera Yelena. Did you get to see the red moon and take any photos yesterday? We got a few as the cloud cover shifted. I think your Hyacinth beans are our lab-lab beans. I am going to have to get some and give them a go now. Thank you for this beautiful post.

Catherine said...
October 8, 2014 at 9:54 PM  

Simply beautiful and healthy ~ Catherine

Gwen said...
October 9, 2014 at 7:43 PM  

Fall is hands down my favorite season. I can't get enough what few colors we have here in the desert as well as the cool air that comes creeping in, just in the nick of time! These colors and this dish is marvelous! oxox

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