(Spicy Lentil, Sweet Potato and Tofu Stew)
WORDS: Johnny Lozano
Jerry Hsu is a god on and off the board. It’s rare to see a skater that can both (1) switch hardflip over your head and (2) speak with scholarly diction for 90 minute interviews. Add a flair for peppering humor into his ads and video parts and you’ve got the Beavis to Marc Johnson’s Butthead.
While literally every one of Jerry Hsu’s parts could make it into a top 5 list of all-time greats (seriously, Bag of Suck was two songs of pure ender material), one of my favorites is his Stay Gold part. While I’ve heard the opinion echoed that this should be more toward the bottom of the list due to its brevity, I like this one precisely because it’s 50% slam footage. Don’t get me wrong, watching someone like Nyjah go 13 for 14 is awe-inspiring; but watching someone who’s been in the game for almost three decades battle trick after trick is infinitely more relatable, and ultimately (in my opinion) more entertaining.
On the topic of battling tricks, Fall is upon us and that means at least two things: (1) we can all battle tricks a little bit longer without worrying about heat stroke; and (2) I can start cooking stews again. If these two things seem unrelated, then I dare say you’ve never had the well-earned joy of coming into a warm house to a hot stew after battling a trick in the cold for a few hours. This dish may not heal any broken bones you’ve suffered by trying to match Jerry’s perseverance, but it’ll serve as a fitting recovery meal to coax the battle-worn soul.
In addition to nurturing our more intangible qualities, this stew is packed with:
- Fiber from the lentils, tofu, sweet potato and other veggies;
- Protein from the tofu and lentils; and
- Inflammation soothing Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene from the sweet potato and carrots.
All of these ingredients make for a Carl Weathers-approved stew that will help you prep for your next battle while tickling your taste buds. No matter how hard you bail, coming home to this dinner will show you that somedays you just CAN win.
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 yellow onion (chopped)
- 3-4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 tomato (seeded and chopped)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 1 tbsp. cumin
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. chipotle powder
- 1 tsp. cayenne powder
- 1 block extra firm tofu (crumbled)
- 1 sweet potato (chopped into medium chunks)
- 3 carrots (chopped)
- 2 cups dry lentils
- 4 cups vegetable broth (or water)
- cornstarch (optional—for thickening)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Thankfully, this recipe only requires one pot, so there’s minimal cleaning required afterward. In a large pot, heat up the oil and then toss in the onion, garlic, bell pepper and tomato and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Once those are softened up and the onions are beginning to brown just a touch, add in the bay leaf, paprika, cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder and cayenne and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring it up so that the spices get nice and warm.
- Next add in the crumbled tofu. You may have noticed that I didn’t say to press the tofu. Since it’ll be cooking in the stew, there’s no need to press it before hand; just give it a good squeeze over the sink to get some of the excess water out, then crumble it up and toss it in. Cook for another minute or two, stirring it around.
- Add the sweet potato, carrots, lentils and broth and stir it all up. Bring it to a boil, then down to a low-heat and cover the pot. Simmer for 30-35 minutes or until the lentils and sweet potato are tender. If you like a thicker stew, add some cornstarch to thicken it up; otherwise leave a little of the broth in there. Add salt and pepper to taste then dig in!
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