My mom has been a vegetarian since before I was born. My father isn't a vegetarian, but he loves to grow and cook vegetables. I had a good mix of both worlds in my diet growing up and I am very thankful for this because I enjoy cooking vegetarian and meat meals.
Lentils remind me of my mom. Even though I probably turned my nose up at them a time or two in my punky youth days (because eating healthy wasn't as "cool" back then as it is now), the truth is... I've always loved them, and they are delicious!
Lentils are such a powerhouse food that it is hard not to love them, even if you are a total meatatarian. Red lentils are the seeds from legume plants that are split when hulling. They are said to lower cholesterol, are great for heart and digestive health, increase energy, help stabilize blood sugar, and promote weight loss. There are different varieties of lentils such as red, green, and brown. Red lentils take less time to cook and will disintegrate, making a nice thick soup texture and are perfect for making Indian Dal. Green and brown lentils hold their form longer and may need to be run through the blender after cooking to achieve the same smooth texture.
Coconut Curry Red Lentils
- 2 cups dry red lentils
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 3-4 large carrots
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 4 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried ground thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
Rinse and drain Lentils and set aside. Chop veggies and mince garlic. Heat a Dutch oven to medium high and add olive oil and onions. Stir frequently until onions begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and bay leaves and cook another 1-2 minutes.
Add the rest of the spices and continue to cook another few minutes, adding more olive oil if necessary.
Add carrots, 1/2 cup of the stock, and honey. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until carrots are somewhat tender. You will want them to be tender, but not cooked all the way through at this point.
Add lentils, coconut milk, and the rest of the stock.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium low. Let them simmer for 25 - 30 minutes, or until lentils are cooked.
The lentils will turn more of a yellow color as they cook and will lose their form.
Garnish with cilantro or even some pickled red onions! (check out All the Pickled Things for a pickled red onion recipe)