Green Lentil & Spinach Curry/The New Vegan
I realised recently that I haven't revealed too much about my new book yet ... well, at least not on here I haven't. I guess I presume most of you follow me on twitter and instagram so you're already up to date - but perhaps not? Anyway, maybe this easy dinner recipe will pique your curiosity surrounding my latest offering The New Vegan. Whilst there's plenty of info for newbies, I've been keen to ensure the book appeals to seasoned vegans (and non-vegans) too ... my thinking behind the title was more of a fresh, new approach to veganism free from many of those negative connotations associated with the word. I feel this new wave of veganites are less constrained by labels, and I wanted this to be reflected in the book - which, by the way, also includes chapters on 'cruelty-free beauty' (featuring DIY beauty recipes) and 'my vegan wardrobe' ... who says you can't be vegan and stylish, eh?
As ever, my recipes are quite straightforward with ingredients that can all be found at the supermarket. Like most people I'm on a pretty tight weekly budget, so none of the dishes will break the bank - I also try to incorporate nutritional tips that lay bare how easy it is to be healthy and vegan without restricting yourself. That means you'll find a smattering of sugar and the odd bit of white flour - I'm a foodie first and foremost, and still love playing around with these ingredients even if they've been somewhat demonised in recent months. Of course, I balance it all out with fresh juices, sumptuous salads and decadent raw desserts but make no mistake, the only reason for their inclusion in the book was due to their deliciousness and not because they fit the 'clean eating' criteria. Whilst I have nothing against 'clean eating' in theory, I try to not let it influence my cooking/eating too much because I think it sets a worrying precedent - namely that we end up flailing ourselves should anything 'unclean' pass our lips, and, in my opinion, that's no way to live.
This 'Green Lentil and Spinach Curry' is pretty basic but during the week, this is exactly the kind of dish I'm after - warming, wholesome with a crucial kick thanks to chilli and cayenne. I've been known to make a huge batch which I can then reheat for lunches throughout the week ... you could easily take it to work and reheat it in the microwave for a homemade hit midday. Equally, it's a great option for when you have guests - I often pair it with some easy flatbreads and let everyone help themselves. For those of you who aren't so confident in the kitchen, this is a great starting point. Likewise, all the recipes are easily adaptable so if you're missing one or two ingredients you can easily sub it out with something else.
A few of my other favourites from the book include the Red Pepper & Spinach Stromboli, Jerk-Style Cauliflower Steaks and my Aduki Bean Casserole. For the salad-lovers amongst you I have a feeling you're going to love my Roasted Cauliflower Fattoush, Quinoa Tabbouleh with a Harissa Dressing and not forgettting the Thai-Inspired (spiralised) Salad with Tamari Roasted Cashews, which always get rave reviews. Got a sweet tooth? Gotcha covered. Think Banoffee Pie, (gluten-free) Orange Polenta Cake, Fruit 'n' Nut Truffles and Wholemeal 'Buttermilk' Scones to name but a few (or four) although there are many, many more that are sure to whet your appetite. And how could I possibly not mention breakfast (my favourite meal of the day) which includes everything from Buckwheat Griddle-pan Waffles through to Chai Chia Pudding, No-Bake Granola Bars and Savoury Indian-Style Crepes - oh, and if you like baked beans as much as me, you're going to love my staple 'stove-top' alternative.
No doubt I'll be checking in again with yet more recipes and insights into the book but in the meantime I hope this is just the taster you need to go check it out for yourself - be sure to let me know what your favourite recipes are, and if you happen to be on instagram please do post a pic ... they always make my day!
what you'll need
1 tablespoon coconut oil 1 onion, chopped 1 carrot, chopped 1 garlic clove thumb-size piece of fresh ginger 1 red chilli 125g dried green lentils 400ml can coconut milk ½ gluten-free vegetable stock cube 1 tablespoon tomato purée 150g spinach 30g fresh coriander, roughly chopped sea salt and freshly ground black pepper brown rice, to serve
for the cucumber and coconut dressing ¼ small cucumber 2 tablespoons coconut cream juice of ½ lime 1 spring onion, finely chopped pinch of salt
for the curry powder 3 cardamom pods ½ teaspoon garam masala ½ teaspoon palm sugar or other vegan sweetener a few black peppercorns pinch of cayenne pepper
what you'll do
1. First make the dressing. Deseed and finely grate the cucumber, squeezing out any excess juice. Whisk together with the other dressing ingredients, but be sure not to over-season. Refrigerate until needed.
2. Next, grind the curry powder ingredients together in a pestle and mortar to a fine powder.
3. Heat the oil in a large heavybased frying pan. Add the onion and carrot to the pan, season and sweat for several minutes until they begin to soften.
4. Using a knife, mince the garlic, ginger and chilli together on a clean chopping board and add them to the pan. Cover and sweat until fragrant before tossing in the dried lentils. Stir to coat and let the lentils absorb any flavours in the pan before sprinkling over the prepared curry powder. Cover and sweat for several minutes until the spices become nicely toasted and the flavours have penetrated the veg and lentils.
5. Add the coconut milk, stock cube and 150ml water, cover and simmer gently over a medium heat for about 1 hour until the lentils cook through.
6. Stir through the tomato purée and boil the sauce, uncovered, for about 10 minutes to reduce before adding the spinach to the pan. Cover and let the spinach leaves wilt into the sauce.
7. Add almost all of the coriander to the pan, reserving a little for a garnish. Once the sauce has sufficiently reduced and the spinach leaves have wilted, serve over a bed of brown rice with a spoonful of the cucumber and coconut dressing.
Taken from The New Vegan by Áine Carlin. Image by Nassima Rothacker.