Spiced Spinach Lentils

I have been experimenting a lot with lentils lately and I am starting to build a new appreciation for them. Lentils cook quite a bit faster than beans so they are wonderful when cooked with other vegetables or other portions of the meal. They can take on many flavours and you can cook them to the desired texture whether that be very cooked to form a stew or aldente to add a bit of texture. Here, we will cook them to a happy medium and bring them to life with lots of aromatics, spices and spinach. 

A few things to note on this recipe, first off, this recipe makes a lot of food. If you live alone, I would recommend cutting it in half. Additionally, I recently learned that unlike many other grains and legumes, lentils should not be salted while they cook as it may result in lentils that are too rough and chewy. Lastly, I call for regular spinach in this dish, however baby spinach will do just fine as well. If you use baby spinach feel free to skip the rough chops as those leaves are never very large. I hope you enjoy! 

Active time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 14oz can light coconut milk
  • 1 lb spinach
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Finely diced white onion, for garnish
  • Preferred rice, for serving

Directions:

  1.  Heat a dutch oven or large heavy bottomed skillet (that has an accompanying lid) on medium low heat, add in the oil. When hot, add in the onions and a small pinch of salt. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until they begin to turn translucent. Then add the garlic and cook until fragrant – 30 seconds to a minute.
  2. Add in the cumin seeds, and continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes stirring frequently to toast the cumin seeds. Add in the garam masala, smoked paprika, coriander, cardamom, cayenne pepper and a hearty amount of black pepper and toast the spices for 30 seconds to a minute stirring constantly. 
  3. Add in the 2 cups of water and scrape down the bottom and the sides of the pans to ensure the spices are not sticking. Add in the coconut milk and the lentils and stir to combine. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the water is absorbed. 
  4. While the lentils are going, roughly chop your spinach into more manageable pieces. Once there is just a little water remaining in the lentils, add in the spinach. There is a large volume of spinach so this may take a couple batches. Add it in, toss with the lentils and then put the lid on for a minute to allow it to wilt. Repeat this process until all the spinach is incorporated and wilted. Finish it off by adding in 1 ¼ tsp salt. Taste after and adjust for salt and pepper if necessary. 
  5. Serve the lentils over rice covered with raw white onion and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Enjoy!

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