Harissa-stewed lentils with pickled fennel salad makes the humble legume feel downright swanky. This hearty plant-based meal is brimming with nutrients and will satisfy both vegetarians and omnivores alike.
1small fennel bulb (with stalks and fronds attached)
3/4cupwhite vinegar(sub apple cider vinegar)
1 1/2tsp.salt, divided
4Tbsp.extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1cupyellow onion, finely chopped
1yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
3garlic cloves, minced
1Tbsp.mild harissa sauce(such as Mina brand)
1heaping cupdry green or brown lentils
3cupslower-sodium vegetable broth
1(14.5-oz.) canpetite diced tomatoes
1/2cupfresh torn mint leaves
Apinchof black pepper and chili flakes
1/2 cupplain whole-milk Greek yogurt
Remove stalks and fronds from fennel bulbs. Remove fronds from stalks (discard stalks) and coarsely chop fronds; set aside. Cut fennel bulb in half and thinly slice on a mandoline (if you have one; if not, thinly slice with a knife). Place fennel in a large bowl. Bring vinegar, 1/2 cup water, sugar, and 1 tsp. salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour vinegar mixture over fennel; let cool to room temperature while you prepare lentils.
Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet with a fitted lid over medium heat. Once hot, add onion and bell pepper; cook 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, and harissa; cook 3 more minutes, until tomato paste darkens in color. Stir in lentils; cook 2 minutes to lightly toast.
Add broth, diced tomatoes, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt; bring mixture to a low boil. Cover, reduce heat, and gently simmer for 25 minutes, until lentils are tender. Remove lid and simmer, uncovered, an additional 5 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
During final 5 minutes of cooking lentils, finish preparing fennel salad. Pour fennel through a strainer and discard pickling liquid; transfer fennel back to bowl. Add mint leaves, 1/4 cup of chopped fennel fronds, almonds, and remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Season with black pepper, a pinch of chili flakes, and additional salt, if desired.
Divide stewed lentils evenly between 4 bowls. Top with a dollop of yogurt and a scoop of fennel salad. Serve warm.
Make-Ahead: Pickle the fennel up to 2 days ahead and store refrigerated in an airtight container. Store: Store the fennel salad and stewed lentils separately in airtight containers for up to 4 days.Reheat: Take the fennel salad out 30 minutes prior to serving to take off some of the chill. Stewed lentils can be reheated in the microwave or in a skillet over medium heat with a splash of broth.