Lemon mint lentil potato ragout

December 27, 2010 at 1:15 pm (AMA, Beans, Beans and greens, B_(3 stars, like), Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan: dinner, Root vegetables, Starches) ()

The lentils and potato in this stew create a hearty, filling base, while the lemon, mint, and feta add brightness and lots of flavor.  A little spinach adds more lovely green color, and more nutrients.  I liked how you can’t tell whether the green bits are chopped spinach or mint.  The many flecks of green made the stew quite attractive, and the potato slices provided nice textural and visual contrast.  Based on a recipe in the AMA Family Health cookbook.


  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups dried brown or green (French) lentils
  • salt to taste (I use about 3/4 to 1 tsp. fine salt or 2 to 3 tsp. salted bouillon powder if I don’t have vegetable broth on hand)
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional, if like me you’re feeding spice-sensitive kids, just sprinkle cayenne individually on each adult’s bowl)
  • 1 1/2 pounds unpeeled potatoes, ideally small ones, sliced 1/4 inch thick (If your potatoes are large you’ll need to halve or quarter them before slicing.)
  • 1 pound torn fresh spinach leaves or 1 package (10 ounces) thawed frozen spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 tsp. grated lemon zest (from approx. 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 4 ounces (about 1 cup) crumbled feta cheese
  • fresh black pepper to taste


  1. Mince your garlic and let it sit 10 to 15 minutes. Chop your onion.
  2. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or heavy 4- to 5-quart pot.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Stir in the broth, lentils, cayenne (if using), and 3/4 tsp. salt (or 2 tsp. salted bouillon powder).  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are almost tender.  (Alternatively, if you want to prep the recipe in advance, you can simmer the lentils for just 15 minutes, then just turn off the stove and let the lentils sit in the hot liquid. When you are ready to finish the dish, bring the liquid back to a boil.)
  3. Add the potatoes and cook until the lentils and potatoes are both tender, about 15 minutes longer. Stir the stew every five minutes or so to make sure your potatoes all cook evenly, and to make sure that the lentils don’t sink to the bottom and burn.
  4. Stir in the spinach and simmer, covered, until the spinach wilts and becomes tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Add more (hot) liquid if needed to maintain a stew-like consistency.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, cayenne, and mint.  Sprinkle with the crumbled feta before serving. Add additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Update Feb 2, 2023:

I made this tonight and Derek and Alma both rated it 3.5 out of 4 stars. I was less enthusiastic. I’d probably give it 2.5 out of 4 stars, but I wasn’t super hungry. I felt the same way about the leftovers the next day. Fine, not exciting.

I can’t remember how long the original recipe in the AMA cookbook says to cook the lentils (maybe only 15 minutes?), but I do remember it wasn’t long enough and I always had to cook the potatoes longer than 15 minutes to get the lentils to be done, and the potatoes would get very soft and the skins would start to fall off. You really only want to cook your potatoes for 20 minutes total. In this online recipe from 2014 the author, Brooke Dojny, has the same recipe as in the AMA cookbook, but she has you pre-cook the lentils until almost tender, about 25 to 30 minutes, in a separate saucepan. But who wants to get two pots dirty? I prefer the method of just cooking the lentils in the dutch oven or large pot and then adding the potatoes to the same pot. This online recipe also says that if you’re using frozen spinach you should add it with the potatoes. I wonder why? Does she think frozen spinach takes 15 minutes to soften? And wouldn’t that result in the potatoes cooking for 5 minutes less?? This version of the recipe also calls for 3 Tbs. oil. I think the AMA one only called for 2 Tbs., maybe because it’s a “health” cookbook.

Today I cooked the lentils for 15 minutes and then turned them off and left them covered in the hot pan for several hours. When I got back home I brought the liquid to a boil again while I washed and sliced my potatoes. While the potatoes cooked I zested and juiced my lemon, washed and minced my mint, and crumbled my feta.

Update April 2011:  I made this again with red-skinned potatoes, but I don’t think it actually makes a difference.  White potatoes tasted the same.  If you follow the instructions carefully the potatoes end up totally falling apart by the time the lentils are cooked.  Then the skins come off and get kind of stringy.  So I’d suggest either adding the potatoes later or peeling them.  I used 1 tsp. of salt and it seemed to be the right amount.

My original notes from Dec 2010:

I used 4 quite large garlic cloves, and low-salt bouillon cubes instead of vegetable broth.  I added salt with the lentils, rather than waiting until they were cooked.  The recipe calls for red-skinned potatoes, but I could find any, so I used regular white-skinned potatoes.  They were a bit large so my potato slices ended up a little too big.  I cut the largest ones in half.  I used frozen, unthawed finely chopped spinach and just let it unthaw in the stew.  I added the feta cheese to the dish with the lemon juice and mint.

The stew came out quite tasty.  The amount of lemon and feta and mint were all perfect. Unfortunately, my potatoes weren’t all equally submerged in the stew and some of them weren’t really cooked through all the way.  If you have a wide dutch oven, probably you should stir the stew a few times to make sure the potatoes all cook evenly.

Rating:  B+
Derek: A-

Nutritional stats:

According to the cookbook, the recipe makes 6 servings and each serving has 431 calories.  My version made about 9 cups and according to my own calculations each 1.5 cup serving has about 376 calories.  I’m not sure why there’s a discrepancy.  My calculations says that the dish is 20% fat, 59% carbs, and 21% protein, and that 1.5 cups provides 61% of Vitamin C, 34% of Vitamin A, 33% of Iron, 16% of Calcium, 19.5g of protein, and 10.2g of fiber.


  1. austin gardener said,

    What is this AMA Cookbook you keep referring to?
    I put it in your search box and didn’t get anything helpful.
    Is it vegetarian?

  2. mangocheeks said,

    This sounds wonderful: harty and comforting. Liking the addition of lemon to waken the tastebuds.

    I too was going to ask about the AMA book, but the question has now been answered.

    Happy New Year to you.

  3. Vegetarian Passover 2011 « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] also thought about making this lemon mint lentil stew, but it seemed a bit too homey for a […]

  4. Thai mushroom and tofu stirfry with fresh mint | The captious vegetarian said,

    […] bought a large bunch of mint for this lemon mint lentil potato ragout recipe, but didn’t use it all up, and went looking for something to do with all the mint. I […]

  5. What to do with a lot of lemon or lime zest? | The captious vegetarian said,

    […] lemon mint lentil potato ragout […]

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