Pasta, Rice, Grains/ Vegetables

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 Passionflowers 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 the 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 

Black lentils stew with beets and green onions

Black Lentil Stew with Beets & Fig Balsamic Vinegar

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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 leadoff 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.

Black lentils stew with beets and green onions

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  • Reply
    October 8, 2014 at 5:59 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

  • Reply
    Rosa's Yummy Yums
    October 8, 2014 at 7:07 am

    A beautiful stew! So comforting and delicious.



  • Reply
    Angie Schneider
    October 8, 2014 at 7:43 am

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

  • Reply
    October 8, 2014 at 8:25 am

    I love the color and the ingredients!

  • Reply
    The Ancient Olive
    October 8, 2014 at 10:03 am

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

  • Reply
    La Table De Nana
    October 8, 2014 at 12:35 pm

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

  • Reply
    Te de Ternura
    October 8, 2014 at 3:53 pm

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

  • Reply
    October 8, 2014 at 6:42 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.

  • Reply
    October 9, 2014 at 1:54 am

    Simply beautiful and healthy ~ Catherine

  • Reply
    October 9, 2014 at 11:43 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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