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.

Indian Tomato Rice

I couldn’t stop myself from trying- and sharing- one more recipe in Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: The New Home Cooking book. ­čÖé This recipe was inspired by Madhur Jaffrey’s tomato rice recipe in Vegetarian India.

This quick and versatile dish can be served as a side with seafood, chicken, or, as Kimball suggests, a simple fried egg. We ate it as a light meal with saut├ęed chard with garlic and cumin. I loved the layers of spices. I used serrano chiles instead of bird’s-eye chiles.

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

  • 1 cup white Basmati rice, rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T grapeseed or other neutral oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp brown or black mustard seeds
  • 2 serrano or bird’s-eye chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  1. In a bowl, combine the rinsed rice with enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Let soak for 15 minutes. Drain the rice very well
  2. In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the 1 1/4 cups water and tomato paste; whisk until dissolved. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium, combine the oil, cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, chiles, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the seeds begin to pop and the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the rice and salt and cook, stirring, until coated with oil, about 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in the water-tomato paste mixture and bring to a simmer.
  6. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat, add the tomatoes and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in the cilantro, fluffing the rice with a fork.

Tacos with Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce (Camerones Enchipotlados)

These tacos were quite spicy, but the heat was easily counteracted by the mild toppings. The smoky heat from chipotle chilies is one of my absolute favorite flavors.

This dish was very quick to prepare. The recipe was adapted from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. (my last one to share… for now ­čÖé ) I increased the amount of garlic and incorporated my CSA garlic scapes. We ate the shrimp filling in warm, soft corn tortillas topped with avocado, fresh cilantro, and sour cream. Perfect with refried beans on the side.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes (1 1/4 pounds), quartered
  • 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, with sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds extra-large raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed and patted dry
  • 4 T lime juice, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, plus 2 garlic scapes, sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, plus more to serve
  • 8 to 10 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed
  • diced or sliced avocado, sour cream, and lime wedges, for serving
  1. In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes, chiles, and any sauce coating the chiles, with 3/4 tsp salt until mostly smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 T of the oil until beginning to smoke. Add half of the shrimp and cook, stirring, until golden, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Repeat with the remaining shrimp, adding them to the bowl.
  4. Toss shrimp with 2 T of the lime juice. Set aside.
  5. Return the skillet to medium-high and add the remaining 2 T of oil. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until just beginning to brown, 1 minute.
  7. Stir in the wine and any accumulated shrimp juice from the bowl. Cook until liquid is nearly evaporated.
  8. Add the chipotle mixture and simmer, stirring, until thick enough to coat a spoon, 10 to 12 minutes.
  9. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the shrimp, cover and let sit until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
  10. Stir in the cilantro and remaining lime juice. Adjust seasonings as necessary.
  11. Serve with warmed tortillas, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, and lime wedges.

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.

Pinchos Morunos: Spanish Spice-Crusted Pork Tenderloin Bites

My non-pork tenderloin-eating son gobbled up these bites of meat! The sauce and seasoning were absolutely delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. I doubled the recipe to use two pork tenderloin. We ate it with Basmati rice and green salad. Fabulous.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 one-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 T lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • 2 T honey
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2-3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1-2 T chopped fresh oregano
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.
  2. Add the pork and toss to coat evenly, massaging the spices into the meat until no dry rub remains.
  3. Let the meat sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, in another small bowl, combine the lemon juice, honey, and garlic. Set aside.
  5. In a large skillet (I used a 14-inch skillet) over medium-high, heat 2 T of the oil until just smoking. Add the meat in a single layer and cook without moving until deeply browned on one side, about 3 minutes.
  6. Using tongs, flip the pork and cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through and browned all over, another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 140 degrees.
  7. Off the heat, pour the lemon juice-garlic mixture over the meat and toss to evenly coat, then transfer to a serving dish. (I tossed the sauce with the meat in my serving dish.)
  8. Sprinkle the oregano over the pork and drizzle with the remaining 1 T of oil, if desired. (I omitted the additional oil.)
  9. Serve with lemon wedges.

Turkish Meatballs with Lime-Yogurt Sauce

I have several recipes to share from Christopher Kimball’s wonderful book, Milk Street.

This recipe used several genius techniques. The first was using a French technique, panade, which incorporates a bread and dairy paste into meat to bind it together and keep it moist during cooking. These meatballs were incredibly tender as a result. The author also uses the microwave to infuse oil with shallots, garlic, and spices- genius!

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef and substituted Greek yogurt for whole milk plain yogurt. I really loaded the pita bread halves with meatballs, sauce, and toppings making them essentially knife and fork “sandwiches.” These meatballs would also be wonderful served over rice with a green salad. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 with 1 1/2 cups sauce

For the Meatballs:

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • one 8-inch pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces)(white pita is preferable)
  • 1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves (1 ounce), finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey or beef
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Lime-Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 3 T tahini
  • 3 T lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

For Serving:

  • 2 to 3 pita bread rounds, halved
  • tomato slices
  • cucumber slices
  • red onion slices
  • fresh mint or parsley leaves
  • lime-yogurt sauce

To Make the Meatballs:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together 2 T of the oil, the shallot, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano. Microwave until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pita bread, yogurt, and water. Use your hands to mash the mixture to a smooth paste. Add the reserved oil mixture, the mint, ground meat, salt and pepper. User your hands to thoroughly mix.
  3. Divide the mixture into 12 portions, then use your hands to roll each into a smooth ball. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  4. In a 12 or 14-inch skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium to medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add half of the meatballs, and, using a spatula press them into 1/2-inch thick patties.
  5. Cook over medium, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the meatballs are well browned on both sides and register 140 degrees F at the center, about 4  min on the first side and 2 minutes after flipping.
  6. Transfer to a platter and tent with foil. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.

To Make the Sauce:

  1. Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.

To Serve:

  1. Fill half of a pita bread pocket with 2-3 meatballs.
  2. Top with sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, red onion, herbs, and sauce, as desired.

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