It’s been far too long since I last posted a recipe that facilitated eating massive quantities of spinach in one sitting*. I feel a little guilty about it! Powering through leafy greens is kind of my thing, and I shouldn’t keep it from you any longer. This lentil spinach curry is a weeknight dinner that I’ve been enjoying recently. It’s got a pretty short and easy ingredients list for a curry, and a lot of the work is hands-off which makes it easy to clean as I go. Plus, you NEED to try coconut rice if you haven’t. I will persuade you further in just a moment.
My spinach pesto pasta is famous around these parts, not only for its ease of preparation and delicious flavor, but also for packing in a whopping 6 ounces of spinach. But there comes a point in every recipe developer’s life when she has to figure out how to one-up herself, and so I present to you my lentil spinach curry with fully 8 ounces of spinach crammed in. I don’t mean to make it sound like a chore, though – I’m in love with the fresh, buttery spinach flavor infused into every bite of this dish. I really do think the curry would taste worse if you used less of it :).
I keep the lentil spinach curry fairly light, tangy and low in fat because I wanted to serve it with a side of coconut rice. Which is pretty much what it sounds like – rice that’s been cooked in coconut milk instead of water. I used jasmine rice here, and grated some fresh ginger and chili pepper into the mixture before cooking, for an extra fragrant final result. The coconut milk makes the rice rich, decadent, and a little sweet tasting, making it the perfect pairing for my tangy spiced spinach and lentil curry.
I highly, highly recommend that everyone who makes rice with regularity get a rice cooker. In addition to making this particular recipe a complete breeze, it’s just a fantastic device to have around for bulking up any meal by adding a cooked grain with very little effort – and easy cleanup. I use mine for not just rice, but also quinoa, barley, and more… and even some more elaborate complete dishes. If you have questions about how to cook any specific thing in the rice cooker, just drop me a line and I will try to help! The rice cooker I am linking to here is the exact same one that I own and love.
Go forth, and fill your life with delicious spinach by making this lentil spinach curry! And if you do, let me know in the comments how you like it! Or tag your recipes on Instagram with @yupitsvegan and #yupitsvegan. Cheers!
Lentil Spinach Curry with Coconut Rice
For the coconut rice (might make a little extra):
- 2 and 1/4 cups uncooked white jasmine rice
- 1 and 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
- water (see instructions)
- pinch salt
- (optional) 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- (optional) 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
For the lentil spinach curry:
- 1 and 1/2 cups uncooked green lentils
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 large red onion thinly sliced
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 jalapeno seeded and finely chopped
- 1 inch ginger peeled and grated or minced
- 4 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
- 1/2 lime juiced
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (I used canned)
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 8 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 8 cups, loosely packed)
- 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk (see notes)
For the coconut rice:
Rinse the rice well. Add it to your rice cooker along with the rest of the rice ingredients, and enough water to reach level 3 in the rice cooker. Cook until done. If not using a rice cooker, or using a rice cooker without level markings, cook the rice with your usual method and amount of liquid, substituting the coconut milk for 1 and 1/4 cups of the water. Most rice packages will also include instructions. Do NOT make this with only the rice and coconut milk - you need to add water.
For the lentil spinach curry:
Add the lentils to a saucepan along with enough water to cover them by several inches. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until tender and done to your liking. Drain the cooked lentils and set aside.
Meanwhile, warm the olive oil over medium heat in a deep skillet, saucepan, or dutch oven. Add the red onion and cook until softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and cook for about 1 minute. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and ginger, stir, and cook for about 1 minute, or until the garlic and ginger are fragrant and slightly softened. Add the garam masala and cook for thirty seconds until fragrant.
Stir in the 1/2 teaspoon salt, lime juice, diced tomatoes, and coconut sugar, and reduce the heat a little bit. Cook for about 10 more minutes, until the tomatoes are starting to break down.
Meanwhile, add the spinach to a food processor and pulse to chop it, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the non-dairy milk and pulse to combine, until the spinach is finely chopped but not pureed.
Once the lentils and tomato mixture are both finished cooking, stir the lentils into the tomato mixture. Add the spinach mixture and stir well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 7-10 minutes or until the spinach is softened and bright green. Add more salt, pepper and lime juice to taste. Serve hot with a side of coconut rice.
NON-DAIRY MILK: If you are using canned coconut milk then you will have 1/4 cup leftover from making the rice. Dilute this with another 1/4 cup water to use in the lentil spinach curry where it calls for 1/2 cup non-dairy milk. If you do not have non-dairy milk, you can substitute 1/2 cup vegetable broth plus 2 extra teaspoons of olive oil.
PREP AND CLEANUP: This recipe uses a few different dishes but it's still pretty simple and easy to make. To ensure that cleanup doesn't become a pain, start out with an empty sink, and rinse all dishes as soon as you're done with them. Then, clean a dish or two while waiting for various components of the recipe to finish. By the time dinner is served your kitchen will be almost clean. 🙂
NUTRITION NOTE: Nutrition facts were calculated using only 1/2 of the rice recipe, since it makes extra.
*Without having to eat a salad :). Adapted from here. (This dish almost resembles what I imagine might be called vegan palak dal or dal saag.)