Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Creamy Lentil, Spinach and Sweet Potato Dal

After a busy few days of eating less optimally than I would like, I knew it was time for a high fiber vegetable and legume dish to make the gut flora happy. With my stomach already screaming "feed me," I knew it was time for the quickest go to bean, lentils. They are certainly less glamorous than the fava bean, the garbanzo, or the cannellini bean. Lentils are perfect if you're short on time since they don't require soaking. So, if you haven't invested in a pressure cooker or you don't want to mess with the soaking business, rest assured this main dish can go from bag to pot to table in all of 30 minutes. That's a beautiful thing!
In one of the busy eating out meals, I had one of the best vegan spinach dal dishes at Whole Foods. Trying to re-create it was next to near impossible as I only knew it was creamy, speckled with spinach and polished with a little kick at the end. If "dal" is new to you, just know that it's pronounced "doll" and refers to a delightfully flavored bean stew with various vegetables served in countries like India or Nepal. Nevertheless, the original Whole Foods' dish provided all the inspiration I needed to mix the the other flavor I was craving...peanut butter!

Creamy Lentil, Spinach and Sweet Potato Dal

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced
2 teaspoons whole cumin seed
1 16oz bag (2 cups) dried lentils
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cups of hot water
1 14oz can of light coconut milk
1/3 to 1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
2 teaspoons ground garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cups fresh spinach, torn in pieces

1. Saute onion in pre-heated pot on stove-top or pressure cooker for about 2 minutes until it begins to turn translucent.
2. Add garlic, ginger and cumin seed. Stir thoroughly and add water when cumin seed begin to pop, about 2 minutes.
3. Combine rest of ingredients, except for spinach, in pot or pressure cooker.
      Pressure Cooker: Seal, lock lid, and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Allow pressure to come down naturally.
      Stove-top: Bring ingredients to a boil then cover, reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 20-30 minutes until lentils and sweet potatoes are nice and tender and start to break apart when stirred. This will help create that creamy richness.
4. Add additional water to thin out if you prefer. Stir in spinach to create specks of green on a yellow/orange canvas. Add salt to taste.

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