Green Lentil Curry

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This is my go-to lentil curry recipe. I’ve made it several times now and it always makes for a filling dinner and delicious leftovers for lunch the next day. It’s also vegetarian! Actually, it’s probably vegan if you serve without yogurt.

A couple things I’ve found to be important as I made and re-made this recipe over the past year:

– Having the right spices makes a big difference. The first few times I made this, I didn’t have cumin seeds or coriander. They were a little pricey and not at my usual grocery store. But when I finally got some and added them to this dish, I figured out what I’d been missing the whole time.

– Eat with full-fat yogurt! Non-fat is not as good,of course ūüôā Full-fat everything!

– Curry is hard to photograph. Especially this color curry.

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Recipe (from here)

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, mashed to a paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 1/4 cups dried green lentils
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 ounces green beans, cut into 3/4-inch lengths
  • 4 ounces kale, stemmed and leaves finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  1. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, coriander and ground cumin. Stir in 1/4 cup of water to make a paste. In a small skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and cook over moderately high heat for 5 seconds, just until sizzling. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the spice paste and let cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until thick, about 1 minute longer.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the lentils with the turmeric and 5 cups of water; bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the lentils are barely tender. Add the green beans, kale, carrot, three-fourths of the cilantro and the cayenne and season with salt. Cook until the lentils and vegetables are tender, 15 minutes. Scrape in the spice paste and the remaining cilantro. Simmer for 5 minutes, then serve with rice, naan, and/or plain yogurt.

Warm Red Potato Salad with Cilantro and Toasted Cumin

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Last week we bought a bunch of cilantro to use in some fish tacos for Boyfriend’s birthday. We forgot about it in the fridge that night, and resolved to use it for our next batch of tacos. We forgot about it again. And again. And again. That bunch of cilantro began to haunt me.

So this weekend I made it my personal goal to do something with it. I googled things like, “What to do with a ton of cilantro???” and “I have so much cilantro! HELP!” and encountered many other people on the internet with the same problem as me.

I found this recipe and was intrigued, because I had never before considered potato salad with cilantro and cumin seeds, but it turned out so fragrant and delicious it kind of seems like a no-brainer.

We ended up getting some chicken tikka masala from a tiny Indian take-out place near our apartment to pair with it. It’s also great as a side dish or a¬†small meal on its own.

Recipe taken and adapted from the kitchn.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons salt
2 pounds red potatoes, chopped into roughly 2-inch pieces (I used 4 medium-sized red potatoes)
1 bunch cilantro, stems trimmed and removed
3 large shallots (I substituted one small red onion)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons whole cumin
1/2 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

Boil a large pot of water with 2 tbsp of added salt. Add the diced potatoes and cook until tender, but not completely mushy. Drain and return to the pot.

Chop the cilantro roughly and stir it into the hot potatoes. Slice the shallots (or red onion onion) thinly and stir them in too.

Pour the olive oil oil into a small skillet and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is quite hot, stir in the whole cumin seeds. Cook for about 45 seconds, stirring frequently, until the cumin and oil smell toasty and the cumin has darkened slightly. Pour the contents of the skillet over the potatoes (watch out, as some of the seeds may pop as they hit the cooler pan). Stir thoroughly.

Juice the 1/2 lemon and stir the juice in as well. Season to taste with black pepper, and any additional salt, if needed.

Butternut Squash Soup

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I’ve been making a lot of soup lately due to 1) the colder weather and 2) my desire to use my previously talked about new immersion blender as often as possible. It’s magical.

This is a very easy butternut squash soup that is filling and tasty and very flexible. I kept it very simple in terms of spices and the cream content, but you can add a ton of different things to a basic squash soup–I saw many variants of this online and in the reviews for the recipe.

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Depending on how smooth or chunky you like your soup to be, you can either blend it for a long time or just in short bursts. I didn’t leave any chunks in mine but it wasn’t liquid-smooth either.

Recipe (from here)
1 Butternut squash, about 2 pounds
2 tablespoons oil (I used grapeseed)
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot
1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon finely minced jalapeno pepper (I actually didn’t include this)
2 cups chicken stock (if you’re vegetarian you could switch to vegetable stock)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Peel the squash and cut into 1 inch pieces. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the carrot, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, and then add squash, jalapeno pepper, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15- 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and puree the soup using an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender or food processor. Return to the heat, add the cream and adjust the seasonings.

Seen in the upper left quarter of this photo is an uber fancy cheese plate that my friends gave me for my birthday! To the right is an apple and brussel sprouts dish that turned out badly and that I won't be writing about
Seen in the upper left quarter of this photo is an uber fancy cheese plate that my friends gave me for my birthday! To the right is an apple and brussel sprouts dish that turned out badly and that I won’t be writing about

Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine

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I am¬†not an expert on¬†middle eastern food, so I can’t tell you whether this recipe is an “authentic” tagine, but I CAN tell you that it’s tasty, relatively healthy (if you’re concerned with things like that; sometimes I try to be) and pretty easy to put together.

To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what tagine itself was, so I did some research on trusty Wikipedia: “Moroccan tajine dishes are slow-cooked savory stews, typically made with sliced meat, poultry, or fish together with vegetables or fruit.¬†Spices, nuts, and dried fruits are also used. Common spices include¬†ginger,¬†cumin,¬†turmeric,¬†cinnamon, and¬†saffron.”

Tagines are also traditionally cooked in a volcano or cone-shaped earthenware pot like this one that I found on Google Images:

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It looks pretty cool, but I didn’t have one, so I just used a regular saucepan and lid. My version of tagine was vegetarian, but I imagine it’d be pretty easy to add in some chicken or beef to this dish. I’ve made this recipe twice now; the first time I paired it with quinoa, and the second (this most recent time) I just used regular white rice. Both tasted great.

This was also my first time purchasing and using tumeric as a spice, and I loved it. The original recipe also called for 1 tsp coriander, which I left out because my budget is limited and I could only buy one new spice this time around. One day…

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Chickpea & Vegetable Tagine (adapted from here)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander (I did not include this)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups Sun Gold or cherry tomatoes, halved (I used cherry)
1 (15-ounce) can unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

First, prepare your rice or quinoa according to their package instructions. These can cook without any attention from you while you work on the tagine itself.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes; cook 2 minutes or until tomatoes begin to release their liquid. Add chickpeas and zucchini. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 6-10 minutes. You want the mixture to get a little stew-like and you get that by trapping the steam and returning it back into the pan. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Serve zucchini mixture with your choice of grain.

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We put the leftovers in a tupperware in the fridge and ate it for lunch 2 days later. If anything, it got better! I think it had more time to stew in the spices and juices in the fridge, and after popping it in the microwave for a minute, it tasted awesome. This is a really fast dinner option that could easily be a great lunch the next day, or even a few days later.