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And besides, this vegetarian supper was absolutely delicious! I first made it a year ago with red lentils and remember it being good. But tonight's supper, with black lentils that hold their shape like French lentils, was stunningly delicious. And compared to many vegetarian dishes, especially often mud-brown lentil dishes, it gets high marks for color, too.
If you or your tablemates aren't excited about tofu, leave it out or substitute cubes of chicken breast or pork or even lamb or even, to keep it vegetarian sweet potato. And while tofu made for a hearty vegetarian supper, the lentils alone would make a great bed for grilled meat or aside roasted chicken, too. Or a quick lunch. Or topped with a poached egg. Can you tell? I love these lentils!
2015: I still love these lentils! In fact, I turned the recipe into a column for one of the favorite concept recipes at Kitchen Parade, Two-Way Lentil Skillet. It's a recipe to come back to again and again, easy to adapt to what you have on hand. The two essentials, to my taste, are the lentils and the spinach. After that? Go to town!
"This was soooooo good. ... Even the kids liked it." ~ Carrie
RECIPE for LENTIL, PEPPER & SPINACH SUPPER
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 5 cups lentils
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic (from a jar or substitute 3 minced garlic cloves)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3/4 cup (150g) lentils, rinsed well
3 cups water or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 ounces (141g) fresh spinach
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
Sprinkle cayenne pepper or to taste
12 ounces light extra-firm tofu
LENTILS Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over MEDIUM HIGH. (If you're not cooking the tofu, add the cumin seed, curry and cayenne now and cook for a minute before proceeding.) Add the onion and pepper as they're prepped, stirring to coat with oil and then occasionally, until soft. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute. Add the lentils, water and salt. Bring to a boil, then cook, uncovered for about 20 minutes or until liquid is fully absorbed, stirring occasionally. Stir in the spinach in batches until it's softened.
TOFU In another skillet, heat the oil until shimmery on MEDIUM heat. Add the cumin, curry and cayenne and cook for 2 - 3 minutes, until fragrant. Dry the tofu with a paper towel, then cut into cubes. Add the tofu to the skillet and gently stir to coat with spices and oil. Let cook until browned (or at least warmed through), stirring occasionally.
COMBINE Spread tofu across the lentils (or stir into the lentils, if preferred.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
LENTILS I've made this with red lentils (for a creamier version), black lentils and French lentils (which hold their shape so well) and even, most recently, with plain brown lentils (which can look awfully "brown" but are easily found and least expensive. All taste great!
TOFU Both firm and extra-firm tofu work, the others are too soft to saute. If you're watching calories, do check out the huge calorie difference between light and full-fat tofu. The last time I made this, the tofu didn't crisp up at all in a cast-iron skillet but still tasted good.
SPINACH Five ounces spinach will seem like way too much! How will that big pile fit into the skillet? Add it in two or three batches, the tender leaves will wilt into the dish, cooking just from the heat of the lentils.
CILANTRO The inspiring recipe calls for a light sprinkle of chopped cilantro at the end – it's great but half the time, I forget it and it's never missed.
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MORE FAVORITE LENTIL RECIPES~ Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes ~
~ Summer Lentils ~
~ Julia Child's Lentil Salad ~
~ more recipes with beans & lentils ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Simple Lentil Salad with Seasonal Vegetables ~
~ Lentil Soup Vincent ~
~ Two-Way Lentil Skillet ~
~ more lentil recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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