Saturday, November 24, 2012

Curried Red Lentil Stew with Winter Veggies

So, it's the beginning of flu season. This means people around me are sick. And by people around me, not even necessarily people I know -- in the grocery store the other day, I saw someone who looked like she was about to pass out (pale features, sheen of sweat, red nose, bundled up far more than the temperatures outside called for). Cold and flu season makes me want to eat things that are going to help boost my immunity (and, let's face it, that are just plain good for me).

And, since the days are more frequently cool / cloudy / wet, I want to consume warm things -- stews, soups, bakes. teas & coffee, etc.

This is where a curried red lentil stew comes in. This particular stew has onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, lentils (hooray protein!!), dark green veggies*, and more immune-system boosting goodness. Regardless of whether any of these actually help me stay healthy during the winter months I like to imagine they do -- and it creating a large batch of this stew provides me with several days of quick, healthy meals.

I ate this alongside a gluten-free flat bread (that turned out crispier than I would have liked), but it would also go well with brown rice or a nice pliable flat bread, like pita. If you want to up the spice (again, this might depend on the curry powder you choose), add a pinch of red pepper flakes at the same time you add the lentils.
Thick Red Curry with Winter Veggies

Curried Red Lentil Stew with Winter Veggies
2 teaspoons oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece ginger, minced

1 cup fresh cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons curry powder**
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (optional)
3 dried curry leaves (or 1 bay leaf)
1 cup red lentils
3 1/2 cups water

1 cup fresh kale, chopped

Warm the oil in a medium-sized soup pan, over medium-high heat. Add the onion, sweet potato, and salt, and saute 4-5 minutes, until the onion and sweet potato begin to brown. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and ginger. Saute another 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except the kale, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and allow to simmer 18-20 minutes, until the cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and lentils are soft. 

Stir in the chopped kale and remove from the heat. As soon as the kale has wilted (this took less than a minute for my curly kale), taste and add salt, if necessary. Serve hot.

Special Notes:

*I also chopped some of the green parts of the cauliflower -- about 1/2 cup worth, and added those. Biting into them was a bit like biting into a piece of cabbage in the stew, and something I would do again, but this is definitely up to you. If you do add them, add them 2-3 minutes before you add the kale and before you take the stew off the heat.

**I use a medium-hot curry powder with a moderately high ratio of turmeric. If you use a sweet curry powder, start with 1 tablespoon and add more toward the end, if you desire. As always, it's easier to add than to take away!

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