French Lentils with Hakurei Turnips and Sweet Potatoes

This recipe is delicious on a cold autumn night. Lentils are hearty and satisfying, and the addition of the turnips and sweet potatoes round out the flavors, textures, and nutrition in this dish. You can serve it straight up, or dress it up for company with a piece of fish or tofu. 

The base of it all

The lentils are the star of this dish. French lentils, especially “Puy,” are greenish brown in color, have a lovely nutty flavor, and keep their shape in cooking. Don’t substitute other lentils or they may turn to mush!

 Sweet turnips

I used Hakurei turnips, the sweet little white roots with tender leaves, but you can substitute any favorite turnip or rutabaga. If they come without their greens, toss in some spinach or other favorite green at the end.

A hundred years ago, I was talking about this

The sweet potatoes were deliberately used, and actually got me thinking about this dish. I was chatting with Sheryl at A Hundred Years Ago about a really sweet, sweet-potato recipe, and we noted how strange that we almost always see a sweet or sugary addition to an already sweet vegetable! It stuck in my mind, and when I decided to make lentils this week, I thought I would give it a try. Well, there’s no sugar of any sort added to this recipe, and I included some heat as well as vinegar at the end to cut some of the sweet in those potatoes!

This makes 10 cups, and freezes well. You can also halve the recipe if you like, but making a big batch means meals in weeks to come! As someone who doesn’t really care for the sweetness of sweet potatoes, I think this was quite successful, and I’ll certainly make it again.

French Lentils with Hakurei Turnips and Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne
  • ½ tsp. hot paprika
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 4 or 5 sage leaves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb. Hakurei turnips, diced
  • ¾ lb. sweet potatoes, diced
  • 2 cups French Puy lentils
  • 2 quarts water 
  • The greens from the turnips
  • ½ cup diced fresh flat-leafed parsley
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

 Prep vegetables and reserve the turnip greens for the end of the recipe. Cut the onion, turnips, and sweet potatoes roughly the same size, recognizing you’ll have some smaller pieces on the edges of these round vegetables.

 Heat a stock pot over medium high and add the olive oil and onions. Sauté for a few minutes, until the onions have softened but not browned. Add the garlic and tomato paste and continue cooking for another minute, until you smell the garlic and paste has darkened. Stir in the spices, mix it all up for a few seconds to let the flavors bloom, then toss in the turnips, potatoes, lentils, and water, scraping any glaze from the bottom of the pan. 

 Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about a half hour. Check the lentils at 20 minutes to see how they are doing. 

 Once everything is tender, taste for seasoning. Toss in the turnip greens and parsley.

Cook just until the greens are wilted, turned a bright green, and remove from heat. Drizzle with the vinegar, and serve. If you like, add a bit of butter or vegan butter, and a sprinkle more salt.

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53 Comments Add yours

  1. Suzassippi says:

    This sounds very interesting–I love all these veggies, lentils, and the seasonings sound wonderful.

    1. Thanks! Hope you give it a try!

  2. Never really tried lentils maybe in pre prepared dishes, will have to revisit them, think it’s the preparation, mush or to hard 👍

    1. The Puy lentils have a lovely texture when cooked. They definitely keep their shape, but they are soft and tender to the tooth.

  3. Julia says:

    This sounds interesting. I think I’ll give it a try since I’ve got some French Puy Lentils in my pantry.

    1. Thanks Julia! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

  4. capost2k says:

    Love this stew, but I now have enough pumpkin puree for 10 pies and six bowls of soup! Any ideas on how to use up this much puree would be appreciated! 😂

  5. Bernadette says:

    Beautiful colors and a great mixture of flavors.

  6. I like all three main ingredients, but I wouldn’t have thought to combine them. However, I can envision how they would lend their own taste and combine for something quite unique in flavor. I wish I could try just a small sampling. 🙂

    1. Thanks Judy! You can easily make this recipe much smaller if you want to sample! Or, next time I make it, I’ll drop you a line!

  7. Chef Mimi says:

    Love this! You will never catch me putting anything sweet on sweet potatoes.

    1. I know, but so often that is exactly what people do. Roasting sweet potatoes? Well, let’s douse them with maple syrup first! Don’t get it!

  8. Terrie Gura says:

    This looks delicious, hearty and satisfying!

    1. It’s so good Terrie on a cold winter’s night!

  9. Delicious and nutritious combination!
    I’ve discovered Hakurei turnips only last year, and became a big fan since. They have such wonderful flavor. 🙂

    1. They have such a delicious flavor and I’m sure if someone never had a turnip and tried these first, they would be a fan forever!

      1. With me it was the opposite – I wasn’t a big fan of the common turnip, so this was a very pleasant surprise! 🙂

      2. They are really special Ronit! And I’m always grateful for the greens as well!

  10. Rehoboth says:

    sounds interesting

    1. Thank you! It’s really tasty.

  11. CarolCooks2 says:

    I love these little turnips and do a nice stir fry with them this sounds lovely though especially with the sweet potatoes 🙂

    1. They are really delicious in a stir-fry!

  12. I love lentils! I have never tried this combination with turnips and sweet potatoes but sounds very tempting 😋

    1. It’s a lovely combination, and a great way to slip in some sweet potatoes!

  13. Sheree says:

    Looks delicious

    1. Thank you! I have plenty tucked in my freezer now!

      1. Sheree says:

        It’ll taste even better next time around

      2. Always! Like pasta sauce.

      3. Sheree says:

        Very true

  14. Gail says:

    Sweet potatoes are a nice complement to other veggies we often overlook. You found a way to keep dinner interesting. Well done. 🍃🍠

    1. Thank you Gail! Anything to keep them interested!

  15. I never cook with lentils or turnips, I must branch out!

    1. They are really flavorful and hearty!

  16. nancyc says:

    This does sound great on a cold evening—it not only warms you up but it’s healthy too! 🙂

    1. Thanks Nancy! The weather finally turned cold here so dishes like this and soups and stews are now on the menu!

  17. Carolyn Page says:

    The ‘vegan’ in me loves this dish, Dorothy. I ‘do’ love the sweetness of sweet potatoes. Just lately I’ve discovered a smoothie that consists of half cup cooked sweet potato, 1 date, a swish of nut milk plus some cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Simple yet delish.
    So yes, I’d be very happy with this recipe. The turnips would, though, ‘make it’…. 🙂

    1. Thank you Carolyn! There is something about the turnips that just goes so well with the lentils.
      I love the idea of the smoothie. It must taste like a holiday pie!

      1. Carolyn Page says:

        Precisely! It tastes even more like a Chrissy Pie when made with butternut pumpkin.
        Ooops, Dorothy, I’m making myself salivate! Hahah.

  18. Hi Dorothy, this sounds very good. I will have to see where I can find French lentils locally.

    1. Thank you Robbie. I get mine at the local co-op, Whole Foods, but I’ve even seen them in the supermarket!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Looks delicious! We order our lentils from Sabarot.

    1. Thank you! Sabarot has some wonderful items!

  20. Paula says:

    I love the sound of this recipe – I am not a very brave lentil cook. I like them in some salads and there is a soup recipe I have made many times, but my kids aren’t fans, and I often take them too far and they are mushy. Sweet potatoes are sweet – but I think the sugar connection must be a northern American thing? We don’t have a lot of sweet, sweet potato recipes here in Australia (though I can see the appeal – they caramelise so nicely!). I am keen to give this recipe a go when the turnips in my garden have matured – it is good to have a number of vegetarian meals up the sleeve.

    1. A lot of people are on the fence about lentils, and some of the varieties more easily turn to mush if you turn away for just a minute! These hold up pretty well, especially in soups.
      As for the sweet potatoes, many of the recipes are from the south of this country where the sweet potatoes grow really well, and where the tastes in general run a little sweeter. They are a little harder to grow up north!

  21. There’s a whole lot of delicious flavor in this dish!

    1. Yes, Diane, everything blends together really beautifully!

  22. Nancy says:

    I have not made lentils in a long time. Thanks for the delicious reminder! And what a fabulous combination.
    I am sorry I am a little late on catching up with you but it’s been a few busy days. Glad I stopped over to see these delicious meals.
    Have a wonderful week my friend!

    1. Thanks Nancy! It’s been a busy week for many, and I’m just now feeling like I’m getting back into my own routine, such as it is.
      But after a long, warm early fall, we are now in winter temperatures I’m afraid and I’m behind in digging out all the winter gloves, hats, etc.!

  23. Sowmya says:

    Delicious stew with Puy lentils and vegetables. Wonderful recipe

    1. Thank you so much! It’s now one of our new favorites!

  24. sunisanthosh says:

    This looks like an interesting combination, Dorothy.

    1. Thank you! It’s really good.

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