Red Lentil Curry with Quinoa

After an afternoon of pure indulgence, we found ourselves in desperate need of a nutritious home-cooked meal. Brock and I had spent the afternoon on at the Santa Monica Pier with our friends. Having lived in LA for eight years now, this was my first time there, so I, of course, had to do all the touristy things. By touristy things, I mean eat at every single food vendor. We had eaten ice cream, pizza and funnel cake just to name a few things. Our stomachs were definitely pissed at us. So when dinner time rolled around, we knew we had to counteract all the junk we had filled our bellies with. This called for a serious home-cooked dinner.
 A trip to the bulk section at Wild Oats had left me with three pounds of organic red lentils. This was certainly not by choice. It was one of those tricky bulk dispensers. The kind with the lever instead of the scoop. I pulled the lever with my bag around the spout and out came three pounds of red lentils instantly. Whoops! There was no way to put it back, since the dispenser was very high up, so I grudgingly, bought them. I would use them up eventually, I thought. I do heart lentils especially since they cook up quite quickly. With a surplus of red lentils in the back of my mind, I based Saturday's dinner around it. Lentils, being a part of the bean family, are after all, a very good source of both protein and fiber. A red lentil curry loaded with organic vegetables served over quinoa would fit the bill nicely. Nutritious and delicious.

First off, I started the quinoa in the rice cooker. I do this with everything from wheat berries to buckwheat groats, and find the rice cooker to be my best friend when it comes to cooking grains. Quinoa, in case you've never had it, is know as the "mother of all grains" or "supergrain" due to its high nutritional value. It is high in both protein and fiber and gluten-free to boot. It makes a great substitution for rice or couscous and I personally love it. I urge you to try it if you've never had it. You won't be disappointed.
With my quinoa going, I could forget about it and work on my curry. This way the curry and quinoa would be done around the same time. So much of cooking is about getting the timing right. I sauted one onion, three cloves of minced garlic, two teaspoons of minced ginger, one diced red bell pepper, one julienned zucchini, two carrots and one stalk of celery. I left the carrots and celery in large chunks so they would still have a bite to them after cooking. I added one cup of lentils and roughly two cups of water along with some tomato puree and curry powder. I let the curry simmer for about 20 minutes. After the lentils had softened, I add two cups of packed raw baby spinach and cooked it just until just wilted. Before serving, I added a dollop of fat free yogurt for some creamy goodness. At first bite, I instantly started to feel better. I hadn't eaten a vegetable all day, unless you count the lime I had in my Corona. :) The vegetables had retained a crunch to them, while the lentils had developed into beautiful golden color with a creamy texture. It had just enough heat to it with the fresh ginger and curry powder. Diet redemption!

1 Comment

  • imisspluto

    25 Jan 2009 07:01 pm

    Hi, Julie-
    I found this recipe through a google search for ‘red lentil curry.’  I find myself searching ingredients I want to use, then selecting a recipe that I can manage.  I had almost everything on hand for this one, and it turned out exactly as described.  I improvised curry powder from turmeric, cumin, garlic, ginger, allspice and a dash of cinnamon.  I used some frozen spinach and added a dash of rice vinegar at the end.  Delightful.  Thanks for sharing.


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