Spicy Red Lentil Stew with Coconut Milk & Spinach

This Indian stew was fast to prepare, loaded with spices and flavor, and was absolutely fabulous. What a combination! If that wasn’t enough, it was also a hearty vegetarian dish with a little bit of heat. All my favorites.

This recipe is from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. It is a simplified version of a classic Goan dish. I increased the amount of onion and served the stew with warm naan and chopped grape tomatoes on the side as an optional garnish.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 T coconut or peanut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • kosher salt
  • 3 tsp finely grated fresh ginger, divided
  • 2 tsp yellow or brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp freshly ground fennel seeds
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 13.5 to 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 cup split red lentils, rinsed
  • 6 oz (about 6 cups) baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1/2 to 1 lime
  • unsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish, optional
  • chopped tomatoes, for garnish, optional
  1. In a large saucepan over medium to medium-high, combine the onion, oil, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and are just beginning to color, 7 to 9 minutes.
  3. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the grated ginger, the mustard seed, turmeric, coriander, fennel, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the water, coconut milk, and lentils, then bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the lentils have broken down, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Uncover and stir in the spinach; return to a simmer.
  8. Off the heat, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of grated ginger and the lime juice.
  9. Season with salt to taste.
  10. Serve, garnished with coconut flakes and chopped tomatoes, as desired.

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage & Greens

I actually have a third tasty soup to share. This one is reminiscent of one of our family favorites, Lentil-Kielbasa Soup. Don’t worry- it’s not so similar that it will prevent me from making my tried and true lentil-sausage soup as well this season. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah Digregorio. I used French green lentils instead of black lentils, modified the proportions and incorporated a mixture of CSA greens including beet greens, broccoli greens and escarole. I also garnished the soup with my CSA parsley instead of basil.

This soup could easily be made on the stove top instead of in a slow cooker. I loved that it gobbled up my CSA greens too.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 pound hot or sweet Italian pork sausage, loose or removed from its casing
  • olive oil, if necessary
  • 1 large red or yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 oregano sprigs, leaves only, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • generous pinch of red-pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups dried lentils, preferably black beluga (I used French green lentils)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole or chopped tomatoes
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 5 ounces greens, such as baby spinach or kale, or 1 medium bunch greens, such as chard or kale, stemmed and chopped (I used a mixture of beet & broccoli greens with escarole)
  • 1 T red-wine vinegar
  • chopped fresh parsley or basil, for garnish
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish
  1.  In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up with a spatula, until it is in small, coarse pieces, and starts to brown and sizzle in its own fat, about 8 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a 5- to 8-quart slow cooker. There should be a thin layer of fat covering the bottom of the skillet. If there is much more than that, pour a bit of the fat off. If there is not enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan, add a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Add the onion to the skillet, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the onion and garlic powders, the herbs, red pepper flakes and several generous grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. Increase heat to medium-high, pour in the wine and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot. Let the wine bubble until the pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes.
  7. Scrape the skillet mixture into the slow cooker with the sausage.
  8. Add the bay leaf and the lentils.
  9. Add the tomatoes with their juice. If using whole, crush the tomatoes into pieces using your hands as you add them with their juice.
  10. Pour in the chicken stock.
  11. Season generously with pepper and add 1/2 teaspoon salt if you are using low-sodium stock or 1 teaspoon salt if using homemade unsalted stock. Do not add salt now if you are using fully salted stock.
  12. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low until the lentils are tender, about 6 to 8 hours. (Taste the lentils to make sure they are firm but creamy on the inside; black lentils can vary in their cooking time depending on their age and the heat of your slow cooker.) The soup holds well on warm for 2 additional hours.
  13. Switch the heat to high. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Stir in the greens and cook until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes for baby spinach, 10 minutes for kale.
  14. Stir in the vinegar.
  15. Serve in bowls, topped with chopped parsley and/or basil and grated Parmesan.

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

I have two hearty soups to share. Perfect to serve for dinner on a chilly night. This red lentil soup is healthy, delicious, and quick to prepare.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I doubled the recipe, modified the proportions, and puréed the finished soup to create a uniform texture. I served it with warm naan and green salad.

Yield: 8 servings

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground Chile powder, more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne, more to taste
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock (I used 1 quart of homemade turkey stock & 1 quart of chicken stock)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon, more to taste
  • 6 T chopped fresh cilantro, more for garnish
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over high heat until hot and shimmering.
  2. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper, chili powder, and cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
  4. Add stock, water, lentils and carrots. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  6. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée the soup then add it back to pot.
  7. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro.
  8. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder, if desired. Garnish with additional minced cilantro as well, if desired.

Lentil & Orzo Stew with Lemon & Coriander-Spiced Roasted Eggplant

Happy 2019! I have a few healthy “January” recipes to share before getting back to my belated holiday menu recipes. 🙂

This wonderful stew was hearty and healthy. The flavors in the dish were brightened with lemon zest and juice. I also loved that the roasted eggplant was seasoned with crushed coriander seeds- it made it a more special topping.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yewande Komolafe. I doubled the recipe, increased the garlic and eggplant, decreased the oil, and used green lentils and feta cheese. Excellent.

Yield: 8 servings

  • roughly 3 pounds eggplant (I used 3 medium eggplant), chopped into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 T olive oil, divided
  • 2 T coriander seeds, crushed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 cups dried lentils (green, black or brown)
  • 10 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water (I used 4 cups homemade turkey stock & 6 cups chicken stock)
  • 1 cup orzo or other small pasta
  • zest and juice from 2 lemons, plus lemon wedges for garnish
  • ¼ cup shaved ricotta salata or crumbled feta, or to taste
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1/4 cup olive oil and crushed coriander seeds until coated; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer on 2 parchment paper-lined large rimmed baking sheets and roast until eggplant is tender and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, giving the baking sheet a shake halfway through roasting to toss the eggplant pieces for even cooking.
  3. In a large stock pot, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons oil over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.) Add the carrot, onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste begins to darken on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the lentils until coated. Pour in stock or water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type and age of lentils you use.
  6. Stir in the orzo and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Top with the roasted eggplant pieces and crumbled feta or large shavings of ricotta salata. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing, as desired.

Tomato-Braised Gigante Bean Gratin (Pizza Beans)

This dish could or should be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen called the dish “pizza beans” to make it more appealing to her kids- so I did the same. 😉 She also had the genius suggestion of serving it with garlic bread, giving it even more appeal. Perelman described it as “a mash-up of a giant-beans-in-tomato-sauce dish from Greece and American-style baked ziti, with beans instead of noodles.” Heaven!

My husband and I enjoyed this dish very much. We are already big fans of Greek Gigante beans, by the way. 🙂 With the name “pizza beans,” my kids were expecting pizza, but the flavors in the dish were more like minestrone soup. It may have been more well-received if I had simply called it by the original title, Tomato & Gigante Bean Bake. 😉

This dish would also be wonderful as a cold-weather comfort food casserole. The recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites by Deb Perelman, via smitten kitchen.com. I used a pressure cooker to cook the dried beans, incorporated the pressure cooker bean liquid as well as beet greens, and increased the amount of garlic. I plan to make it again in the winter and give it a different title. I’m sure it will be more well-received. It will be served with garlic bread, of course.

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large or 2 regular carrots, diced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white or red wine, optional
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) curly kale leaves, beet greens, and/or mixed baby greens, coarsely chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups (550 grams) crushed tomatoes (28-ounce or 800-gram can minus 1 cup; reserve the rest for another use)
  • 1 pound (455 grams) giant white beans such as Italian fagioli corona, Greek gigante/gigandes, Royal Corona, or large lima beans
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) vegetable broth or pressure cooker bean liquid, as needed
  • 1/2 pound (225 grams) mozzarella, coarsely grated
  • 1/3 cup (35 grams) grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons (5 grams) roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish, optional
  • garlic bread, for serving, optional
  1. To use a Pressure Cooker to “Soak” the Beans: Place 12 cups of water, 3 tsp of coarse salt and the dried beans in a pressure cooker. Raise to high pressure (2nd ring) for 2 minutes. Release pressure using the natural (water) method. Drain the beans.
  2. Cook the Beans in a Pressure Cooker: Place the drained beans with 9 cups of fresh water in the pressure cooker. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Cook on low (1st ring) for 3 minutes. Release pressure using the natural (water) method. Drain the beans reserving the bean liquid.
  3. Heat the oven to 475 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. In a 2 1/2-to-3-quart (ideally oven-safe) deep sauté pan, braiser, or shallow Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Season well with salt and black or red pepper. Cook, sautéing, until the vegetables brown lightly, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more.
  6. Add the wine, if using, to scrape up any stuck bits, then simmer until it disappears, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the kale/greens, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until collapsed, then add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
  8. Add the beans, and, if the mixture looks too dry or thick (canned tomatoes range quite a bit in juiciness), add up to 3/4 cup broth/bean liquid, 1/4 cup at a time.
  9. Simmer the mixture together over medium for about 10 minutes, adjusting the seasonings as needed.
  10. If your pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer the mixture to a 3-quart baking dish.
  11. Sprinkle the beans first with the mozzarella, then the Parmesan, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned on top. If you’re impatient and want a deeper color, you can run it under the broiler.
  12. Finish with parsley, if desired. Serve with garlic bread.

Punjabi Chickpeas with Potato (Chole or Chana Masala)

The freshly mixed masala spice blend in this recipe was wonderful. I absolutely love full-flavored vegetarian meals like this traditional dish- and this is such a delicious version. It was heavenly and rich served with a dollop of whole milk Greek yogurt on top.

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. (another successful dish!) We ate it with brown Basmati rice and warm naan.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 large red onion
  • 4 T sunflower, canola, grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 pound russet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 T finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • two 15 1/2 oz cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1 T lime juice, plus lime wedges, to serve
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, plus more to garnish
  • chopped fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced Serrano chilies, and whole-milk Greek-style yogurt, for serving, as desired
  1. Using a food processor or the large holes of a box grater, grate the onion, then transfer to a mesh strain and drain.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon of the oil with the coriander, cardamom, paprika, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cayenne, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the cumin seeds and cook, shaking the pan, until the seeds are fragrant and darken, 30 to 60 seconds.
  4. Add the drained onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the moisture has evaporated, 1 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add the potatoes, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown and a fond forms on the bottom of the pan, 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Add the ginger, garlic, and tomato paste, then cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  7. Clear the center of the pan, then add the spice paste tot he clearing and cook, mashing and stirring until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
  8. Stir in the vegetables.
  9. Add the water and bring to a boil, scraping up all of the browned bits.
  10. Add the chickpeas and return to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and cook until the potatoes are tender and the oil separates from the sauce at the edges of the pan, 13 to 15 minutes.
  11. Off the heat, stir in the lime juice and cilantro.
  12. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  13. Serve with lime wedges, chopped tomatoes, chiles, and yogurt, as desired.

Lalla Mussa Dal

This dish was so creamy and delicious I could barely stand it. The spicy kick made it absolute perfection.

This recipe was adapted from The Yellow Chilli Cookbook by Indian celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, via The New York Times. This creamy lentil stew is his signature dish. I reduced the butter (by HALF), doubled the recipe, increased the garlic, used jalapeños, and used a pressure cooker to expedite the cooking process.

I served it over brown Basmati rice with sautéed spinach with garlic and cumin on the side. Wonderful!

  • 1 cup whole black gram lentils (sabut urad)
  • 1/4 cup whole green gram lentils (split mung beans or abut moong)
  • 2 green chiles (such as Indian harimirch or serrano), cut into thin strips (I used jalapeños, cut into rounds)
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato purée
  • 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder, or cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
  • 16 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • 1-inch piece ginger, cut into thin strips, for garnish, as desired
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving
  1. Mix together both types of lentils and rinse thoroughly in salted water. Drain. If using a pressure cooker, cover with 2-inches of water; cook on low for 10 minutes. (Alternatively, add 1 cup water and soak for 1 hour.)
  2. Drain lentils again, add to a small pot with 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Skim the scum and dirt off the top and discard.
  3. Strain the lentils and return them to the pot. Add 1 cup water, the green chiles and ginger and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of the butter and simmer on low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring often and mashing with the back of a big spoon as the lentils soften.
  5. After about 35 minutes, melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter in a deep nonstick pan; add the tomato purée and sauté on low heat until fat rises to the surface. (I used a 4-quart enameled cast iron pot.)
  6. Add the red chili powder (or cayenne), ground coriander, fenugreek leaves and garlic to the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to dry out and stick to the pan.
  7. Add the lentils and mix well. Add the cream and mix well. Add 1 to 2 cups water (for desired texture) and salt to taste, and bring to a boil.
  8. Serve hot, over rice and garnished with ginger strips, as desired.

One Year Ago: Shrimp in Green Mole

Two Years Ago: Stuffed Poblano Casserole

Three Years Ago: Sautéed Haricots Verts with Mushrooms & Shallots

Four Years Ago: Chana Dal and Spinach cooked with Onions (Mughlai Saag)

Five Years Ago:  Sri Lankan Coconut Chicken Curry with Cashews

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