Local nutritionist and chef Anna Dvorak prepares an autumn dish from her new cookbook that's full of healthy, seasonal recipes, Nourish: Fall.
Caribbean Coconut Lentil Curry with Vegetables
When I create new recipes with global flavors, I draw on the wisdom of how foods were traditionally eaten around the world before our American way of eating huge pieces of meat with bread and an afterthought of vegetables began to be the norm. Foods that start with a great sauce, contain lots of vegetables and a little bit of meat are not only economical and eco-conscious but also provide a better balance of nutrition. A curry sauce that already contains an excellent and highly digestible form of protein from the lentils is a great vehicle for eating a big pile of steamed vegetables. Adding a modest amount of whole grains and additional meat protein to finish the dish isn't necessary, but can satisfy bigger appetites.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup red lentils
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (freshly ground from seeds if possible)
7 ounces organic coconut milk (from one 14 ounce can) coconut milk (Not reduced fat. I like Native Forest or Organic Thai Kitchen brands.)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 tablespoons peeled, minced ginger root
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small red onion, cut into thin slivers (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper or Aleppo pepper
Mixed vegetables to steam:
1 1/2 cups broccoli flowerets plus thinly sliced and peeled stems
1 1/2 cups cauliflower flowerets
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 1/2 cups snow peas, halved crosswise (substitute 4 cups spinach leaves or fresh green beans, trimmed into 1" pieces)
1 cup red peppers, cut into 1/2" cubes (do not steam - add at the end)
Optional whole grain:
2 cups cooked quinoa, millet or brown rice
Optional additional protein:
1 cup sauteed tempeh, cooked and cubed chicken breast, lightly steamed shrimp
1. Rinse lentils several times in cool water. Add to a medium saucepan along with water, sea salt and turmeric and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender. Add more water if necessary along with curry powder, cinnamon, coriander and coconut milk. Keep warm but do not allow to boil.
2. Meanwhile, prep the seasoning ingredients, then warm a small sauté pan over medium heat. When it is hot to the touch, add the coconut oil, ginger, garlic and red onion. Sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are very tender and beginning to brown. Add crushed red pepper and stir with onions, allowing them to warm for 30 seconds. Add onion mixture to the curried lentils, being sure to scrape up all of the caramelized bits stuck to the pan.
3. Steam the mixed vegetables by layering the broccoli and cauliflower on the bottom of the steamer basket followed by the snow peas and then the shredded carrots. Steam just until crisp-tender and remove from the heat.
4. To serve, ladle a big scoop of curry over a 1 1/2 cups of steamed vegetables, 1/4 cup raw red pepper, 1/2 cup of steamed brown rice, millet, or quinoa