In my continuing quest to find uses for lentils, I couldn't miss out on a curried main dish. This one is especially fast if you have the lentils pre-cooked. Just chop some vegetables and saute long enough to get them cooked through while you are getting the table set and putting a little fruit together for a light side. It doesn't even heat up the kitchen very much on a warm summer evening.
Look to at the flexibility seen in the Variations. This means it's perfect for using up some of those produce odds and ends in the refrigerator or for just pulling out whatever vegetables you have in the freezer.
1 to 2 T canola oil
1 medium to large onion, chopped
14 oz butternut squash, cut in app 1" cubes (may substitute 3 medium carrots, sliced)
1 stalk celery, diced
1 diced jalapeno (seeded and white membranes cut out if you want this less spicy)
1 to 2 c shredded cabbage (about 2-3 oz)
ginger root, about an inch square after peeling--cut in two or three pieces--OR 1 t ground ginger, to taste
4 to 5 garlic cloves, coarsely cut
1 1/2 t curry powder
3/4 t turmeric
1/2 t cumin
2 1/2 c cooked brown lentils, including liquid (about 1 c before cooking)
1 to 2 c water
1/2 c applesauce (optional)
2 to 4 c fresh spinach or other greens, chopped coarsely
cayenne pepper and salt to taste
1. Saute the onion, squash, celery, cabbage, and jalapeno pepper in the oil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.
2. Grate the ginger root and mince the garlic cloves. One quick way to do this is to use a small processor/chopper if you have one, with a few teaspoons of water.
3. When the onions begin to turn golden and the squash is just tender, stir in the garlic, ginger, curry powder, turmeric, and cumin. Allow to cook for just a few minutes, enough to bring out the fragrance of the spices, and then add the lentils, water, and applesauce.
4. When the mixture has returned to a boil, add the spinach, cover the pan, and continue to cook for just a few minutes, until the spinach is just wilted. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly. Makes 4 main dish servings.
Top with yogurt (or cottage cheese, as pictured), chopped cilantro, and hot sauce. This is a wonderful meal with naan or any flat bread, but it also pairs well with rice.
Fast, fast, fast: Use about half of a 12 oz package of frozen bell pepper and onion strips, skip the celery, and use either frozen diced squash or frozen sliced carrots.
Other vegetables that can be added/subbed in: frozen peas, fresh pea pods, broccoli or cauliflower, zucchini, even corn.
The applesauce can be omitted and 3 to 4 tablespoons of chopped sundried tomatoes or a cup or so of diced fresh grape tomatoes can be added.