Red Lentil Coconut Basil Curry

A few weeks ago our dishwasher stopped working.  This was not a big surprise; the appliances in our kitchen are all from the late 1970s, early 1980s if you’re feeling generous.  The joys of renting an apartment is that you can know nothing about dishwashers, and yet, they still somehow magically get fixed.

Except in this case, we now have a new fridge and a new stove, but our dishwasher is still sad and broken.  On the bright side, when we cleaned out the fridge, we also tackled the cabinets.  I found a bag of red lentils my mom bought when the baby was first born.  I also found a green curry paste that went bad in May 2013.  Do lentils + curry = dinner?  Though the can of paste went in the garbage, we dined on this delicious concoction last night.

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Red Lentil Coconut Basil Curry

  • coconut oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • about 1 teaspoon grated ginger (I keep mine in the freezer for just this occasion)
  • big handful curry powder
  • about a teaspoon cumin
  • about half a teaspoon cinnamon
  • about a teaspoon salt
  • just a sprinkle of red crushed peppers
  • half a teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • about 4-5 leaves basil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • a big handful baby spinach
  • juice from half a lime
    • to serve: naan or rice, Greek yogurt, green onions
  1. In a large  skillet, heat the coconut oil over a medium heat and add onions. Saute about 4-5 minutes, and add garlic and ginger.  Cook until everything is nice and soft.
  2. Add all of the spices (curry powder, cinnamon, salt, turmeric, cumin, crushed red peppers) and the jalapeno and give everything a good toss through. (Don’t be afraid to add a little more coconut oil to keep the spices from sticking to the pan.)
  3. Add the lentils, coconut milk, stock and basil.  Turn the heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the spinach and fold in gently, letting it wilt.  Add lime juice and adjust seasoning to taste.
  5. Serve with rice or naan, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.  Top with a bit of green onion for a nice finish.

The Verdict:

The answer to the question above is a resounding yes.  This is so, so good.  Even better, it’s healthy (I think).  Best of all, this cooks itself in about 25 minutes, total.  That includes the time to cut your veggies and mince your garlic.  Yes.

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Chicken Divan*

Clearly I’m the last person in the world to want or think about dieting, or restricting my eating habits in any way, (we all saw what went on over Valentine’s Day at our house) so I don’t even want to put this label out there.  But here goes: this “chicken divan” is paleo.

Let me explain myself for a moment here: this recipe was shared with me by my future SIL, H, who has been on a month-long kick to figure out what has been ailing her stomach.  Turns out, it’s probably dairy.  Turns out, that really, really stinks.  To make up for it, I’m on a mission to consume all the ice cream she can’t.  You’re welcome, H.  Don’t mention it.

Also: this recipe is actually all sorts of delicious.

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Chicken Divan*

(*sort of)

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • olive oil, ghee or, (gasp) butter
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, cubed
  • 3-4 heads broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 cups chicken stock
  • salt, pepper
  • large handful curry powder
  • small handful ground coriander
  1. Soak your cashews – either by placing them in a bowl of water overnight (which takes forethought and planning, which I didn’t have) or by placing them in a sauce pan with about 3 cups of water, bringing to a boil, and then turning off the heat, leaving them to soak for about an water.
  2. Heat a deep skillet, add olive oil or butter to the pan.  Season your chicken liberally with salt and pepper and then add it to the pan and cook until it turns golden brown.  Put the broccoli over the chicken and cover the pan, allowing the steam to cook the broccoli.
  3. While all that cooks away, drain the cashews and add them to your food processor, along with the garlic, onion, salt, pepper, coriander, and curry.  Pulse a few times, and then slowly add the chicken stock, turning the food processor on all the way.  Add stock until you achieve your desired consistency.
  4. Pour the cashew sauce over the chicken and broccoli mixture and give it a good toss, making to sure to coat the whole thing.  Give it a moment or two to cook down (the raw garlic, in particular!), and then serve…with couscous.

 

The Verdict:

As you’ll note if you check out the original recipe and what I describe above, I doubled the sauce and the broccoli (not the chicken) and found this is more than enough to feed 2 people, with LOTS of leftovers.  We’re making up for Vday, after all.  Have no fear though: this is actually really good and makes you feel sort of virtuous at the same time.  Pass the couscous, though.

 

 

 

 

Slow Cooked Chicken, Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Curry Stew

It’s been at least two or three weeks since I last busted out our crockpot, which just isn’t right.  Thinking about how to right that wrong, I decided it was time to build on the earlier success of this week (I was pretty pumped for being able to rescue the curried red lentil soup) – and do it all over again.  That’s how you learn, right?  Recipe inspired and adapted from Food & Wine.

these veggies are excited for the crockpot.
these veggies are excited to get crockpotin’.

Slow Cooked Chicken, Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Curry Stew

  • 1 pound or so chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry (Note: this would probably be tastier with chicken thighs, but the Husband and I BOTH don’t like dark meat = at least we’re equally weird.)
  • salt + pepper
  • canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger (Tip: keep a fresh ginger root in your freezer and just grate it as you need it!)
  • 2 tablespoons or so curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste, for kick
  • 1/4 cup chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 15 oz light coconut milk
  • 1 bag frozen peas, thawed (Tip: just take them out of the bag, sit in them in a colander and let drain as the rest of the dish slow cooks)
  • optional: cilantro, lime
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yea, veggies.
  1. Heat oil in a hot saute pan.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear them on each side, until just golden brown.  Transfer to your crockpot.
  2. In the same saute pan, reduce the heat, add a bit more oil and then your onions.  Saute until starting to soften, then add garlic & ginger.  Cook for a minute, then add curry powder and chili paste.  Cook another minute or so and then add your broth, scraping up the yummy bits from the pan.  Pour over the chicken in the crockpot.
  3. Add sweet potato, cauliflower, and coconut milk to the crockpot and give it a quick toss.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook on low for about 7-8 hours, until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.
  5. Stir in the peas until warmed through.  Serve over brown rice, squeeze with a hit of lime juice, and top with cilantro.
mm, mm good.
mm, mm good.

 

 The Verdict:

This 1. was just the right amount of spicy; 2. smelled awesome; and 3. tasted great.  Veggies were maybe slightly mushy, and there was a lot of liquid.  With a bit of tweaking on this adaptation, this is a winner.  That will feed you for days. And days.  (Especially when the Hubs is at work – nothing like a crockpot full of chicken and veggies for one, okthanks.)

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard & Chickpeas

Tonight, despite the leftovers begging to be released from their (glass, because when my mom found out about BPA, you can guess what was under the Christmas tree) Tupperware containers, I decided to forge ahead with a plan for lentil soup.  It’s freezing and windy and tomorrow it might even snow here (let’s keep our fingers crossed!!).

You may recall lentil soup with Swiss chard is a staple around here…but I recently bought some garam masala and why not?  Enter Bon Appetit’s plan to integrate curry and garbanzo beans + a few small tweaks, because I just can’t help myself, especially around garlic.

back to our cilantro ways!
back to our cilantro ways!

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard and Chickpeas

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-5 teaspoons curry powder
  • small handful cayenne
  • dash of crushed red pepper
  • pinch garam marsala (optional)
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups veggie broth, plus or minus (depending on if you like lentil soup vs. stand-alone lentils)
  • 1 cup red lentils (what is Bon Appetit thinking, calling for a pound!?)
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • salt and sugar – in case the curry comes out a little bitter, more on this later
  • optional/for topping: plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, cooked brown rice, avocado
  1. If serving with rice (in the Husband’s view, you can’t over-carb), get your water boiling – the rice will take about the same time as the soup, if you get it going first (especially if using jasmine rice).  Cook rice according to directions and keep warm.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Cook the onions down, until translucent, over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook for a minute; add the curry powder, cayenne pepper, crushed reds, and garam masala.  Mix well and then add broth and Swiss chard; bring to a boil.
  3. Add the lentils and reduce the heat.  Split lentils will take significantly less time to cook than non-split ones; if working with split lentils, add the chickpeas now.  If not, let the lentils cook down a bit before adding the chickpeas.  Cover the pot and simmer until the lentils are tender – about 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Taste your soup & adjust accordingly.  Mine was quite bitter and a bit heavy on the seasonings.  To counteract this, I added (very small & equal) amounts of salt and sugar and stirred until dissolved, until I was able to bring the bite down a bit.
  5. Before serving, add the lime juice and stir.  Serve with brown rice, topped with a bit of plain Greek yogurt and cilantro.  TIP: Mixing the yogurt all the way through will also serve to counteract any lingering bitterness and really bring all of the flavors together, though obviously, this won’t work for the lactose-intolerant.

The Verdict:

Around step 4, I got really worried.  In the Husband’s words, it tasted “not bad…like water, with seasonings.”  However, I’m starting to trust myself a bit more, and rather than resign myself to bad soup (which I have definitely foisted upon the Husband before – cue the burned-pumpkin-soup story from our days of pre-dating, which he ate up with a big, if forced, smile.), I actually fixed it, with salt, sugar, and a bit more time stewing.  This turned out deliciously – warm, tasty, and filling (another) happy Tupperware container to bring for lunch.  Topped with avocado, next time!

more avocado, please.
more avocado, please.

Crockpot Time: Coconut and Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup

A few years ago, I received one of the best Christmas gifts ever: an immersion blender.  (Oh, boy.  I am definitely getting older.)  No longer did I have to transfer batches of boiling hot vegetables into a blender; no longer did I have to sully yet another pot or tool.  Soon after that, I embarked on a winter of pureed soups – broccoli, butternut squash, even cauliflower and asparagus.

I particularly like the heartiness of butternut squash soup.  I’ve made it with apples, with onions, with sour cream…but never with coconut milk, as the November issue of Cooking Light suggests.  So, this past Saturday, when the Husband and I ran into a friend (the husband, actually, of the amazing chef who put together the Diwali feast) who was flying solo for the evening, we invited him to dinner and hoped the crockpot – and the coconut – would turn on some magic.  I served this up with a cauliflower side, coming in a separate post.

Crockpot Coconut and Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup

  • olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced (tip: I keep a fresh ginger root in the freezer and just grate it as I need.  Nice and easy!)
  • 1-2 tablespoons red curry paste (I used Sambal Oelek)
  • 8 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (tip: buy the pre-diced at Trader Joe’s, if there’s one near you)
  • 3-4 cups chicken (or veggie) stock
  • 1 potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk
  • cilantro (obviously!)
  1. Heat oil and butter in a small saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion, ginger, garlic and curry paste and cook about 8 minutes, until the onion is softened.
  2. Combine onion mixture, squash, stock, potato, brown sugar and salt and pepper in your crockpot.  Cover and cook and low for 6-8 hours.
  3. With your immersion blender, blend the mixture together in the crockpot until smooth (alternatively, use a regular blender, working in batches).  Stir in the lime juice and the coconut milk until the soup turns a nice light orange color.  Top with cilantro and serve.
#AWC (always with cilantro)
#AWC (always with cilantro)

The Verdict:

The Husband was very skeptical about the coconut milk, not being a coconut fan.  But I’m here to say: it works!  (And he and our guest both had seconds.)  The creaminess of the butternut combined with the coconut milk definitely requires the kick of the pepper (although the curry definitely lends it some heat) and the acidity of the lime, but this is a squash soup for the rotation.