Curry spices combined with tomatoes form a fragrant broth that envelopes the lentils and spinach. Curried lentils and spinach is a dish that’s especially good over brown rice or couscous; for a delicious change of pace, you can also try it over mashed potatoes. Cut cooking time by using canned lentils for a fast weeknight meal.
Complete the meal: In addition to the grain or mashed potatoes suggested above, a simple tossed salad is all that’s needed to complete the meal. Or, make an easy raita-style salad with diced cucumber, tomato, coconut yogurt, and cilantro.
No matter how you accompany it, curried lentils and spinach is an easy, naturally plant-based, and satisfying main dish. For extra fun and flavor, wash it all down with delicious and refreshing Vegan Mango Lassi.
A Little About Lentils
These small, peppery legumes cook quickly without soaking. Brown (or green) lentils are widely known in this country, but tiny red lentils, a staple in Indian cuisine, are also excellent. they’re a bit milder in flavor and cook up faster than larger lentils.
Other varieties include de puy lentils and black beluga lentils, which add visual interest to many types of dishes, but are harder to come by.
No matter what the variety, lentils are a plant-based protein bargain. At nearly 25 percent protein, they’re also full of minerals, including iron, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Like other legumes, they’re a good source of many B vitamins. Learn more about the benefits of lentils.
Recipe is from Vegetariana by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
- 1 cup raw brown or green lentils, or two 15-ounce cans, drained
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (try fire-roasted)
- 2 teaspoons good-quality curry powder, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh or squeeze-bottle ginger
- ¼ teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg
- 5 to 6 ounces baby spinach
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Hot cooked grains or mashed potatoes
- If using raw lentils, rinse them and check for small stones. Combine in a roomy saucepan with plenty of water (at least 3 cups). Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer until tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 35 minutes. Drain. If using canned lentils, drain and rinse.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium-low heat until golden, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the cooked or canned lentils, tomatoes, curry, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Return to a simmer and continue to cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
- Add the spinach (in batches if need be) and cook just until wilted, and stir in. Add the cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Serve at once over hot cooked grains or mashed potatoes.
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Here are more easy and delicious vegan main dishes.