Red Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

It’s been a while since I have posted a recipe. I guess I just lack self-confidence in feeling like my recipes are “blog worthy” ya know? I don’t want anyone to make something and be like, “ew”. Although, I suppose all taste buds are different. To each his own.

I had a craving for some kind of curry/Indian/spicy dish tonight. Baby decided it would be a good night for a spicy dish. When I use this word “spicy” I am really referring to a dish with a lot of spices, not necessarily heat. So, don’t freak out this won’t burn your buds (unless of course you want it to).

I had this recipe on my menu plan for the last like 4 months and I have had yet to make it. I was very pleased with the results even though I was missing a couple of ingredients. Shhh, no one will ever know….It ended up being delightful, despite having not had everything. A great throw together, light, weeknight meal that is vegetarian and superbly healthy! Give it a whirl and let me know what you think. I am going to try some more revisions on the recipe to see if I can make it even more epic, but for now, the simple will do. Oh and by the way…it’s really not a very beautiful dish…or at least my food photography skills are seriously lacking. Sorry bout that. It’s better than it looks I promise!

Red Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

Adapted from: Naturally Ella

Ingredients-Listed in two parts below!
Masala Paste:
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 0-1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (depends on how hot you want. I did not add any since my kids don’t like hot).
  • 1 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam marsala
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped almonds or cashews
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Masala paste, that you made above
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or approx 2 cups, chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 can of coconut cream (in a pinch use FULL-FAT coconut milk…don’t use low fat!)
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 3/4 cup red lentils (please only use red lentils, they are much different from your average brown or green lentil!)
  • 2 cups frozen spinach or a large handful of fresh spinach
  • Optional Garnishes: Cilantro, Limes, Yogurt
  1. To make masala paste, toast cumin and coriander seeds in skillet until fragrant and wisps of smoke start to come off. Be careful not to burn! Use a mortar and pestle (or a spice grinder) to grind spices.
  2. photo 1 (32)In a small food processor or with immersion blender, add the grated ginger,  red pepper flakes (if using), paprika, cumin, coriander, garam marsala, and salt. Next, add olive oil, nuts, and tomato paste. Pulse until paste forms and everything is well incorporated. Feel free to add a few tablespoons of water if your paste is not mixing well! Set aside.
  3. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Melt coconut oil and add diced onion. Cook until translucent and starting to turn golden 5-10 minutes.  Add in minced garlic and cook for one more minute.
  4. Stir in masala paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, then stir in diced tomatoes and coconut cream. Stir together and bring to a boil.
  5. Add in lentils and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring often, until lentils are tender, 25-30 minutes. You may need to add up to a cup of extra water if the lentils start sticking to the pan. You want a thick sauce but no burning!
  6. Stir in spinach. If using frozen, let it cook for a few mins to bring temperature back up. If you are using fresh, just toss it in and turn the burner off…it will cook in no time!
  7. Serve with rice or your favorite grain (quinoa or even some naan bread would be good!). Spritz a bit of lime on top and add plenty of cilantro. Feel free to try with some plain yogurt as well! (I did’t try with yogurt but I imagine it would be lovely).

photo 2 (33)

So there ya go! I know some of those ingredients are scary. Rest assured you can usually find these spices in bulk at places like Whole Foods. So, you don’t have to buy a huge jar of coriander seeds if you have no idea how to use them! Also, in a pinch I am sure you could already ground spices (like the cumin) if you really wanted. The flavor just wouldn’t be as pungent, so maybe toss in a dash more!

PS- Did you know that coriander seed is really cilantro seeds? Cool huh!

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