I love red lentils. They were the first lentil I cooked with when I went to a wholey plant-based diet. And although this was out of necessity (I just had to replicate my favorite lemony lentil soup from a local Lebanese restaurant), I haven’t lost my fondness for the red lentil.
I’ve seen numerous recipes over the last few months for dahl (or dhal, dal, or daal), which apparently is the Indian use of red lentils. I’m very lax on my Indian cuisine. The only Indian food I’ve had is food that was cooked by one of the many Indian students I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. And from what I remember, my experiences were limited to some kind of fermented milk dough thing (I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian at the time) and a yogurt type drink. (There were also random dishes with chicken bones, but I got a pass on those.) Oh ya, I’m not a big fan of curry – at least not the two flavors I’ve tried. So…my interest in making a vegan dahl isn’t really there. What did excite me, though, was a red lentil, roasted butternut squash and spinach skillet dish I made the other night. Sounds like dahl, hu? Ha ha ha! The irony of my dish is not lost on me 😉
1 med onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 med carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 c red lentils (rinsed, if necessary)
1.5 c veggie broth
1 med diced roasted butternut squash (about 2 cups)*
1 lg bag fresh spinach (about 4 cups)
Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 TBSP)
Seasoning to taste (I used salt, pepper, coriander, paprika, and a tiny bit of garam marsala, which I won’t use again (because the cinnamon didn’t do it for me))
Sautee onions, garlic, and carrot in a tablespoon or so of veggie broth or water until tender (about 10 minutes). Add red lentils, veggie broth and seasonings. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook until lentils are tender – about 15 minutes. Check often to make sure there is enough liquid. Once lentils are tender/creamy, stir in roasted butternut squash cubes* and spinach by the handful, wilting each batch before adding more. Serve when squash and spinach are heated through.
*To Roast Squash: Place whole butternut squash in microwave and cook for 5-6 minutes (depending upon size of squash). Remove with a towel and peel outside of squash. Cut now softened squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. (Apparently you can soak the seeds and goo, which will sink to the bottom, then roast the seeds like pumpkin seeds. I haven’t tried this.) Slice halves in half than in half again and cut strips into about the same sized cube pieces. Place cubes on a cookie sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Roast squash at 425F for about 45 minutes or until fork tender.
Most of the recipes I’ve seen for this type of dish contain white or sweet potato, but as much as I love both, my weight doesn’t, so for a much better calorie deal (with about the same amount of nutrition), butternut squash is a great substitute.
I only got two servings out of all that food, but I didn’t eat it with anything else. I suppose a better idea would be to pair it with a nice, big, green salad. Maybe next time!