Creamy Red Lentils

As things evolve in my home we are now up to three people that are plant-based and three that are not. This means my cooking strategies have also needed to evolve. As of Friday I am now making one very big plant-based meal and just providing a meat on the side for those that still want the meat. This does make the cooking easier and means that even the meat eaters are getting in much more veggies than before.

As I am truly terrible about following recipes, I have a tendency to make things up as I go and yesterday was no different than the usual. I didn’t really have any great idea for our protein source. Nothing jumped out as the right thing. When I think of Indian type foods the chickpeas come to mind. With Mexican inspired meals I tend to think of black or kidney beans. Our meal last night didn’t really have any theme though so I was at a bit of a loss. I knew I had lentils but didn’t know how to make them nice other than in dhal. Had to get creative.

The rest of the meal came as easy inspiration. I had homemade potato wedges in the freezer waiting to be cooked and a bag of frozen butternut squash. I also had tenderstem broccoli, onion, a mushrooms. It is a big family and everyone has BIG appetites.

I defrosted the potatoes and cut them into bite size chunks. Please note that frozen potatoes defrosted before cooking seem to turn a bit black so I don’t recommend the freezing and defrosting if you can avoid it. I mixed the potatoes and squash on a baking sheet (with silicone mat) and covered it with hummus, salt, pepper, and paprika. That ent into the oven at 200C for about 45 minutes or when the veg softness is to your liking.

The greens, onions, and mushrooms I knew would be sautéed mostly because there wouldn’t be room in my very small oven. The broccoli being tender-stem was simply cut in half. The mushrooms sliced and the onion is thin half moons. I used a bit of vegetable stock to help start off the cooking and added in 4 cloves of garlic through a press. The spices here were just the veg stock, salt, pepper and liquid seasoning. I had intended to finish it with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar but I completely forgot. I think this dish was in fact my favourite of the night.

I tell you all this to help you understand how I got to this lentil recipe. I needed something that would blend into this meal. As I was making everything up as I went the meal wasn’t terribly consistent in flavours but it all blended well in the end. The lentils could have taken more flavour so feel free to add a bit more of everything but the salt. This meal really already has enough salt in it.

Creamy Red Lentils

2 cups red lentil

2 cups soya milk

2 cups water

1 vegetable stock cube

1 teaspoon harissa

1tsp garlic purée

1/2 Tablespoon paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp hot chili

1 T tomato purée

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring to boil then cook on low heat until lentils are tender. Add a bit more water if needed.

I had added only a cup of water at the beginning but the lentils were not cooking and the water was absorbing fast. I estimate I added about another cup of water but do be prepared to use more in needed.

The harissa was the only thing adding oil to the meal so I allowed the exception to the whole foods no oil rules I am trying to follow. Honestly, until all of my old stuff is gone I am going to use it is a can.

I think if making this again I might add a bit more harissa and chilli to the lentils but if you are not a spicy fan than my recipe is just right for you. I really enjoyed this and my husband ate two full plates and a third helping of the lentils so they must be good. In fact even two out of three meat eaters happily ate the lentils as well as their chicken. So I think this one is a winner…enjoy!

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