12 April 2011

recipe: indian spiced lentils with spinach and coconut milk

Lentils! I've been rediscovering this under-appreciated nutritional powerhouse as of late. Second only to soybeans in amount of protein per serving (18g per cup of cooked lentils), they're also crazy rich in fiber, help stabilize the blood sugar, and are a great plant-based source of iron. Read more about lentils!

I whipped this up as quick weeknight meal. I love lentils because they are quick to cook from their dry state (about 20 minutes) during which time I can usually get the rest of my dinner prepped and ready-- not to mention that they do not contain sulfur like other legumes, so, as Rebecca Wood puts it in The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, "produce very little wind"-- and, that's always nice isn't it?

For this, I started with dry lentils and had them cooking in a pot while I chopped and prepped everything else. My lentils weren't completely cooked when I added them to the rest of the mix, but I just let the whole thing simmer a little longer while I washed dishes.  This is a great make-ahead dish as it tastes even better the next day or two. This also freezes well and actually tastes really good at room temperature-- so bring it for lunch!

Spinach and Lentil Curry
1 tablespoon coconut or canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots (from about 2 medium)
1 cup cooked brown lentils (from 1/2 cup dry)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
whisper of nutmeg
14 oz crushed or diced canned tomato
1/2 14 oz. can light coconut milk (reserve the rest in the fridge or freezer for another use)
3 to 4 cups frozen spinach
1/2 to 1 cup water (based on your consistency preference)
salt and pepper
chopped cilantro, for serving

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sweat the onions and carrot for about five minutes, turning down the heat if they are getting brown. Add in the spices and cook for another minute, then add the lentils and cook for another minute. Add in all of the remaining ingredients, except for the salt, pepper, and cilantro. Turn the heat up to high, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20-30 minutes until heated through, adding more water if you like Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve as a stew or over brown rice, millet, or quinoa. Top with cilantro.

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