Spinach, Red Lentil, and Green Bean Curry

If you’re in the market for a warm vegetable stew with luscious spices which will reheat well, then I’ve got a dish for you. This is a very mild curry (which you could heat up with some cayanne and/or crushed red pepper if that’s your preference) and it has notes of cinnamon from the garam masala. If that’s not your thing, you could use your favorite pre-made curry spice mixture rather than what’s listed here. This dish can easily stand on its own as a vegetarian main, or be served alongside some lovely spiced yogurt chicken (as Neil and I had it).

Ingredients:

 

1 cup red lentils

1/4 cup tomato puree

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground dried turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths

1 cup mushrooms, sliced thickly

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger root, grated

4 cups loosely packed fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

4 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped

1 (15.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

 

Directions:

 

  • Rinse the lentils well and place them in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Drain and set aside
  • In a bowl, stir together the tomato puree and yogurt. Season with garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and chile powder
  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat
  • Add the onion, green beans and mushrooms; cooking until the onion begins to brown
  • Add in the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute- until you really begin to smell them
  • Stir in the spinach; cook until it’s dark green and wilted
  • Add the yogurt mixture and stir until incorporated
  • Mix in the tomatoes and cilantro
  • Stir the lentils and garbanzo beans into mixture until well combined and heated through, about 5 minutes
Curry

The inspiration for this dish came from this recipe.

Sweet coconut lentils

This recipe has a wonderful (and short) list of ingredients that just drew me in.  I had to try it, although I couldn’t imagine just how it would taste.  I mean- sweet dates, creamy lentils, and savory onion…?  Really?  But I did try it, and it was good.  It was a strange thing for me to eat a sweet dish as a side, but it was lovely nonetheless.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 pound lentils

1 cup pitted dates, chopped

2 teaspoons tamari

1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Directions:

  • In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat
  • Add the onion and cook until it’s soft and beginning to brown
  • Stir in the ginger and turmeric and cook for a minute
  • Add 6 cups of water, lentils and dates and bring to a boil
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for half an hour
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • When the lentils have simmered, stir in the tamari and transfer the mixture to a baking dish
  • Cover and bake for 30 minutes
  • Uncover, top the baked mixture with coconut and bake again, uncovered, until the coconut is golden, about 15 minutes longer

Since I was anticipating the sweetness of this side dish, I prepared it with savory grilled lamb chops that I had marinated in honey, tamari, garlic and vinegar.  This made for a well-balanced plate 😉

The inspiration for this dish came from Whole Foods Market.  They put out some great recipes!

J

Chicken cauliflower curry

Alas, this dish has no cute story to go with it.  Just a fantastic flavor profile, and lots of textures.  It’ll make your home smell wonderful and you’ll be wanting to sample straight from the pan all the while it cooks.  And that’s not a bad idea either.  This way you can track the progress of the flavor meld of the ingredients.  It’s great to witness that happening.

I call for the chicken to be added back in nearer to the end of the cooking time because if it sits in the pan throughout then it will get tough and chewy.  That would be a horrible thing to do to a perfectly good chicken breast 😉

Ingredients:

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

5 small red potatoes, cubed, with the skins on

½ head of cauliflower, trimmed into bite-sized pieces

3-4 Tbsp hot curry paste

1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 cup water

1 cup cooked lentils

Directions:

  • Sauté the chicken breast, then remove it from the pan and set aside
  • Heat the olive oil and sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes
  • Add the potatoes and cauliflower and sauté for another 5 minutes
  • Stir in the curry paste and cook for a minute
  • Add tomatoes and water and simmer for half an hour
  • Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add that and the cooked lentils to the mixture and let simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered
  • Season with salt and pepper to your taste.  Serve in large bowls.  Naan makes a great accompaniment

J

Indian-style Broccoli Rabe

Need a new way to prepare winter greens that are lingering in the fridge?  Or do you have some frozen peas to use up and aren’t quite sure how to go about making something interesting with them because if you serve plain ol’ peas again you’ll be banished from meal planning forever?  Look no further.  This dish is simple and it provides plenty of pop for the taste buds.

sarson ka saag

This dish (also known as “sarson ka saag”) really can be made with any type of greens, be they broccoli rabe or spinach, collards or chard, or even peas and mustard greens.  The way that it’s outlined below makes for a stiff sort of side dish, but you could certainly water it down a bit with water or chicken or vegetable broth for a creamier consistency and then serve it over rice.  Personally, I served it along side panko-crusted white fish and we had naan dipped in Greek yogurt too.

naan with spiced yogurt

Ingredients:

1 1/4 pounds broccoli rabe

1/2 pound spinach

2 tablespoons cornmeal

3 garlic cloves

1 jalapeño, seeded

One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled

1 red onion, chopped

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Salt

broccoli rabe, ginger, jalepenos, red onion

fresh, local spinach

Directions:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe and cook for 2 minutes (to blanch)
  • Add the spinach and cook for 30 seconds
  • Drain the greens, transfer to a food processor and puree
  • Sprinkle the cornmeal over the greens and pulse, to combine
  • Set the pureed greens aside

if the recipe came in a box we'd call this the "season packet" 😉

  • Add the garlic, jalapeños and ginger to the food processor and pulse until you have a fine chop. Add the onions
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic-onion mixture and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned
  • Add the pureed greens and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally; add about 1/4 cup of water if the greens look dry
  • Season with salt and serve

panko-crusted cod with Indian-style broccoli rabe

J

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine

Cauliflower with peas and potatoes (Gobhi Aaloo Mutter Ki Subzi)

One night I was trying out a vegetarian main dish and wasn’t quite sure how it would come out so I needed a stand-by, hearty side dish to fall back on in the event that it was a failure.  Turns out the vegetarian loaf which included such ingredients as red onion, spinach, red bell pepper, boxed falafel mix, and goat cheese wasn’t all that bad.  But this side was excellent.  It’s got some heat to it, with the fresh ginger and chili, but you could certainly scale back on those a bit.  It’s got lots of textures, sizes and shapes.  I think that mushrooms would be a nice addition to this as well.

falafel loaf with cauliflower, potatoes & peas

Ingredients:

1 head of fresh cauliflower florets

2 large or 3 medium-sized potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 tbsps olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 large onion, chopped fine

2 tsps minced garlic

1 tsp minced ginger

2 tsps coriander

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chili powder

2 large tomatoes, chopped finely

1 green chili, chopped

1 cup petite frozen peas

Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Put potatoes & cauliflower florets in a steamer and par-cook for about 10 minutes

steamed cauliflower & potatoes

  • Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan on a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and cook for a minute
  • Add the onion and fry until soft, stirring often
  • Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a minute
  • Add all of the spices and cook for 1 minute

onion, ginger & garlic coated in spices

  • Next add the chopped tomatoes and green chili, stirring well, and cook until tomatoes start to get soft (about 2-3 minutes)

fresh tomato & green chili

  • Now add the cauliflower florets, potatoes and peas. Stir well. Add salt to taste. Cover the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat

the completed dish

J

Recipe adapted from a post on About.com