Curried Lentil Stew

We’ve had a return of chilly weather, which means I can make soup for dinner a few more times before this year’s heat sets in and we only want to eat cold, green things for the next seven months.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the heat!  Soup is just so easy and satisfying, that it’s a shame to waste the last cool nights eating salad already.

I happened upon this recipe online and, after making a few adjustments, whipped it up for dinner in 30 minutes.  It’s delightfully flavorful, unapologetically nutritious, exceptionally filling and just ethnic enough to feel like a refreshing change from the norm.

We paired ours with some queso garlic toast made from sourdough bread brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with granular garlic, chopped cilantro and crumbled queso fresco. Toast it under a hot broiler for a couple of minutes. Yum!

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Curried Lentil Stew

Adapted from: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/why-i-dont-like-instant-pot-curried-lentil-sweet-potato-stew/

Serves: 5-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ – 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 pound yams or sweet potatoes, finely diced

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup plain yogurt or queso fresco

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, heat oil over medium heat and add onions. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until golden.

Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.

Add curry powder, salt and pepper and stir constantly for about 30 seconds to allow spices to toast.

Add tomatoes, stock and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

Add cubed yams and simmer another 10-15 minutes, just until lentils and yams are soft.

Stir in chopped cilantro just before serving and garnish with either yogurt or queso fresco.

Soy-Glazed Tofu

Tofu is weird.  Weird people eat tofu.  I get it and I’m OK with it, especially when I can make a meal of it in 10 minutes.  I spent a large portion of my life as a vegetarian and here is something important I took away from that experience:

Meat is meat.  Fake meat is not meat.

For me, choosing to abstain from meat didn’t mean trying to recreate meat and meat dishes from the past.  There are countless bean and vegetable dishes that are much more appetizing than meat-lookalikes.  Sure, you have to think about protein sources when meal planning, but I never understood the urge to recreate a tuna or egg sandwich with tofu.  Exhibit A:

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So, you will never find me posting a recipe disguising tofu as meat or dairy.  What you will get is the following recipe, which is one that meets tofu head on and embraces it for all it’s jiggly soybeaniness.  It needs some love and attention to be delicious, but that is neither complicated, nor time consuming.  In fact, this is one of my fastest dinners!

I almost always make this when we have leftover cooked rice.  Paired with some steamed green beans or a quick salad, it’s a quick, balanced meal that everyone enjoys.  Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!  You may end up with the same result I did:

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Soy-Glazed Tofu
Recipe from Catherine Newman

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
14 ounces firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into about 12 thin slices
Juice of half a lemon

Begin by cutting the tofu and then heat the butter in a large non-stick skillet on medium.  Add the tofu when the butter is melted, turning the heat up to medium-high.  Fry slices for about 5 minutes per side.  Flip once, when golden brown.  Reduce heat to low and add soy sauce and lemon juice.  Swirl to coat.  Flip the tofu and heat for one minute more.  Serve.

The tofu tends to splatter quite a bit as it sautes.  Use a splatter shield, or this alternate oven method to avoid excessive cleanup:

Alternate Oven Method:

This method works best with a double recipe, so use two boxes of tofu.  Preheat oven to 450° F.  Slice butter into thin pats and line a jelly roll pan with them.  Arrange tofu over butter and roast 10 minutes.  Switch oven to broil and broil 2 minutes per side, or until golden.  Add lemon juice and soy sauce, swirl to mix , flip the tofu so the other side is coated and return to the oven for 1-2 minutes more, until slices are nicely glazed.  Enjoy without having to wipe the stove top.

Hurry Curry

Curry is such a great dish for families.  It’s natural sweetness is a hit with kids, yet it can be spiced up to suit the grownup tastes as well.  If you’d like to keep it mild, be sure to use a mild or sweet curry powder, rather than a hot variety.  For those of you wanting to turn up the heat, try adding a couple dashes of ground cayenne with the other spices.  Be sure to put some rice on before you begin the curry, or you’ll be ready to eat long before the rice is done.  The best part?  It’s on the table in 20 minutes!

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Hurry Curry
adapted from a recipe by The Pioneer Woman

2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 large or 2 small onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon curry powder, I like a sweet one
Dash garam masala
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
2 tablespoons honey
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3-4 smallish red potatoes, cooked and cut into chunks
2 large bell peppers, cut into chunks
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
lime wedges for serving

Precook potatoes by either boiling, steaming or microwaving in one of those handy cloth pouches. (When cool enough to handle, cut into large dice.)

Heat a large skillet on medium for a minute and then add the oil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and saute onions for several minutes, until beginning to brown.  Add garlic and jalapeno and saute for another minute.

Add spices and toast, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.  Stir in broth, coconut milk, honey and lime juice until combined.

Add chickpeas, potatoes and peppers and simmer for 5-10 minutes to combine flavors.  Remove from heat, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve over rice with lime wedges.