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.

Mushroom, White Bean and Collard Green Stew

Do you typically avoid vegetarian recipes because you assume that they will be bland, possibly lacking in protein, and just not your favorite type of fare?  Many folks do.  I would like to change your mind with this recipe.  It is flavorful,  hearty, colorful, packed with protein (17 grams per serving),  low in saturated fat, and just fantastic.  Tender mushrooms, creamy white beans, crunchy collards, a sweet and earthy base- I just can’t say enough wonderful things about this dish.  Try it- you’ll like it 😉

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided

1 large white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup Marsala

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 teaspoons dried rosemary

1 tablespoon dried thyme

12 ounces fresh mushrooms (I used 6oz. of button and 6oz. of Portobello) trimmed and thinly sliced

2 teaspoons tamari

2 tablespoons whole spelt flour

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 (15oz.) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 bunch collard greens, tough stems removed and leaves thinly sliced

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Bring a soup pot up to temp over a medium heat and add the olive oil
  • Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until you see the blaring white color begin to diminish
  • Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary & thyme and sauté for another 2 minutes (you will begin to really smell the herbs)
  • Add 1/2 cup broth and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions are all tender
  • Stir in the Marsala, turn up the heat to medium-high and cook about 2 minutes or until the wine evaporates
  • Add the mushrooms and reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms release their liquid and start to get tender, stirring once
  • Stir in remaining 1 3/4 cups broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat
  • While that’s warming up, in a small bowl whisk together tamari, flour, nutritional yeast and 1/4 cup of hot broth to make a thick paste
  • Whisk (do not attempt to stir with a spoon no matter how good you think you are as you will end up with lumps which will cook into dumplings- trust me) the paste into the simmering broth mixture, stirring constantly
  • Bring the stew back to a simmer and cook for a minute, whisking constantly
  • Stir in the beans and greens, cover and cook for 5 minutes
  • Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve

We chose to have our stew with a nice loaf of French country bread baked by El Jardin and purchased at the Northampton Tuesday Market (which is still on through next week).  A sourdough loaf with whole grains and toasted sesame seeds on top.

This recipe was adapted from one by Whole Foods Market.

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

Moroccan Eggplant with Garbanzo Beans

This is a vegetarian dish where there is so much going on flavor-wise, you never even realize that there’s no meat.  Sweet chunks of red bell pepper meet with tart pieces of eggplant and meld together in the spices for a fantastic stew that is rich in vitamin c and fiber.  The chewy little raisins reconstitute in the sauce and add yet another level of texture.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, cut in half and sliced thinly

5 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained

2 cups cooked lentils

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1-1/4 cups + 1 TBS chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup raisins (I used a variety of golden, Thompson & red flame)

1 TBS chopped fresh cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Heat 1 TBS of broth in a large skillet and sauté the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Add garlic, red bell pepper, eggplant, garam masala, and turmeric

  • Stir to mix it up, and add remaining broth and tomato sauce
  • Stir again, cover, and cook over a medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Add garbanzo beans, lentils, red chili flakes, and raisins and simmer for another 5 minutes
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with chopped cilantro

This recipe was inspired by a post on World’s Healthiest Foods.

J

Paella

I will admit to being a bit apprehensive about attempting paella.  This dish is so rich in tradition and is thought of by many as the national dish of Spain for goodness sakes.  With the list of expensive ingredients (and I did an abridged version) I did not want to have the creation from hell (yes this has happened in my kitchen before) on my hands.  I can honestly say that my anxieties were for not.  The dish really comes together on its own- all the cook really does is add the ingredients at various stages and watch it happen.  The flavor profile is fantastic- sweet peas and creamy rice, acidic tomatoes, savory saffron.  This one is definitely worth your time.

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil

1 Spanish chorizo

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 Spanish onion, diced

1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, hand-crushed

1 cup Spanish rice, short to medium grain

1 teaspoon saffron threads

3 cups water, warm

12-16 large shrimp, peeled

1/2 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed

Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:

  • Rinse the chicken breasts and pat them dry, then cut into cubes
  • Mix the oregano and paprika with salt and pepper in a small bowl
  • Rub the spice mixture all over the pieces of chicken; marinate for 30 minutes or more
  • Heat the olive oil in a paella pan or wide skillet over a medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, and brown
  • Add the chorizo and continue to for 5 minutes (you will see the sausage begin to brown)
  • Remove the chicken and sausage to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any excess oil

  • Return the pan to the stove and lower the heat to medium
  • Make a sofrito by sauteing the garlic, onion, and tomatoes until the mixture caramelizes a bit; season with salt & pepper

  • Add the rice, stirring to coat the grains

  • Stir the saffron into the rice. Pour in the water and simmer for 10 minutes (do not cover)
  • Add the reserved chicken and chorizo. Give the paella a couple of good stirs to coat all of the pieces and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, about 15 minutes
  • Scatter the peas & shrimp on top and continue to cook for 5 minutes

  • Allow to rest, off of heat for 5 minutes

  • Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges

This recipe was adapted from one by Tyler Florence.  I made my version a bit lighter and less heavy on the seafood.

J