Curried Lentil Stew

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Not only is this vegetarian stew — with vegan options! — quick enough for a chilly weeknight but it's surprisingly light and filling. That makes it perfect for meal prep too. And if that's not enough, it's a one-pot wonder! It's also easy to customize: use any spice blend instead of curry powder, tear in some hearty greens like kale, add canned beans the last 10 minutes to bulk it up, and serve it over anything just about anything like toast, rice, or sautéed greens. Serves 4.

  • Approx. 2x1-inch piece of ginger
  • ½ large red onion or 1 small
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 chile pepper, as mild or hot as you like
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 scallion
  • 3 tablespoons butter, or 4 tablespoons oil to make it vegan
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite curry powder
  • One 13.5oz can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 tablespoon honey, or 2 teaspoons vegan sugar
  1. Peel then finely mince the ginger; you will need about ¼ cup. Dice the onion and bell pepper. Finely slice the chile, including the seeds and membrane if desired. Press or finely mince the garlic and set aside. Finely slice the cilantro tenders then chop the leaves and set aside separately. Quarter the lime. Finely slice the scallion on the bias and set aside for garnish.
  2. In a cold dutch oven or large pot, combine the butter, ginger, onion, bell pepper, chile pepper, and salt. Turn the heat to medium-high and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to brown, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook another couple of minutes until the garlic is very fragrant but not coloring.
  4. Add the cilantro tenders, tomato paste, and curry powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the curry powder is very fragrant and the tomato paste starts to change from bright red to deep brown and is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the coconut milk and hot water, stirring and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the lentils and honey and mix well to combine everything.
  6. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender and the liquid has reduced to a thick stew. If it reduces before the lentils are done, reduce the heat a bit and add ½ cup of water.
  7. Once ready, add salt to taste and squeeze in at least half of the lime. Serve hot with the scallion and cilantro leaves as garnish.