Authors: A Veggie Venture
This recipe is brought to you against all odds and prevailing winds.
A "Pinterest Cook" No More I had such great confidence when the kitchen remodeling started. "I'll cook every day," I promised myself. Right. Within days, I turned into a "Pinterest cook" - that's someone who "cooks" by pinning one recipe after another without ever actually lighting the stove let alone chopping an onion. Then the other night, I couldn't sleep, my brain-on-busy overwhelmed by pesky kitchen details like, Will the countertops be in by our June 29th party deadline? and What should I do with the backsplash? and What about colored glass for the new light fixture?. I was scrolling through Pinterest when it hit me that all the ingredients for this gorgeous sweet potato curry were collected in the kitchen, postponed from dinner when drywall dust was flying. Five minutes later, the stove was on, the onion was chopped and I felt so calm, so at peace cooking again, albeit at three in the morning. Six hours later, we ate this for breakfast, wishing there were eggs in the house for an "egg on top". Even the kitchen contractor and the electrician dug in with big spoons, everyone gave it "thumbs up".
The Disappearing Memory Card On Sunday, I sat down to upload the pictures and write the recipe when, alas, the memory card slipped between the cushions of a chair! Even after turning the chair upside down, slicing it open from the underside, there was no retrieving the memory card. Thank goodness, I was more than happy to make this sweet potato curry again. Did I mention it was gorgeous?!
Low-Calorie, Low-Point Healthy, Vegan Staples Careful readers will notice that ever since I started (and finished, after losing 35 pounds and feeling GREAT) Medifast (details here), I've been adding 50- and 100-calorie quantities to all new recipes and older recipes as I update them. This is because now that I've replaced Medifast food with my own real food, I want big-flavored, healthy foods in 100-calorie increments. I've been doing this for about two months now and l-o-v-e the energy and satisfaction that eating four small meals a day (plus a main mail and a before-bed small meal) adds to my life. This recipe? It's a total win for that purpose. In a few months, I'll write a post called, "How I Switched from Medifast Food to Real Food" with all the details but in the mean time, I'm still figuring it all out!
RECIPE for SWEET POTATO CURRY with RED LENTILS, ROASTED PEPPERS & SPINACH
Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 4 to 8 hours (slow cooker) or 1 hour (stovetop)
Makes 8 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 3 teaspoons green curry paste (see ALANNA's TIPS)
2 large (about 600g) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup (165g) red lentils (see TIPS)
1 15-ounce can (425g) tomato sauce
2 cups good vegetable or other stock, brought to a boil in the microwave (use 3 cups if cooking on the stovetop)
JUST BEFORE SERVING
1 12-ounce jar of roasted red peppers, sliced (see TIPS)
3 cups (about 5 ounces/141g) baby spinach (see TIPS)
START OFF ON THE STOVETOP In a large, heavy Dutch oven, heat the oil until shimmery on MEDIUM. Add the onion and stir to coat with fat. Add the garlic, stirring again to coat. Let the onion and garlic cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and turning gold. Stir in the green curry paste and cook a minute. Stir in the sweet potatoes, lentils and tomato sauce and bring to a boil.
OPTION ONE, FINISH ON STOVETOP Cover, reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer and let cook until the lentils are plump and soft and the sweet potatoes are soft.
OPTION TWO, TRANSFER TO A SLOW COOKER Transfer mixture to a slow cooker and stir in 2 cups hot stock. Cover and cook for 3 - 4 hours on HIGH or 6 - 8 hours on LOW or until sweet potatoes are cooked and lentils are plump and soft and the tomatoes and lentils have turned into almost a sauce.
EITHER WAY, JUST BEFORE SERVING About 10 minutes before serving, stir in roasted peppers and let heat through. Stir in spinach and let "cook" from the heat of the food, just two or three minutes.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
GREEN CURRY PASTE The inspiring recipe called for a whole three tablespoons of green curry paste. I've learned from experience that (1) different brands vary in "heat" and (2) tolerances for heat vary too! I started off with just one teaspoon and then later added another two teaspoons. That was "perfect" heat for me, taste-wise, and for my three male taste-testers as well.
SWEET POTATOES If cooking on the stovetop, cut the sweet potato cubes quite small so they cook more quickly and evenly.
LENTILS Red lentils are the softest lentils, they "melt" into whatever you're cooking. Brown and black and green lentils would work too but the texture would be considerably different.
ROASTED PEPPERS Roasted red peppers can be every-so-pricey in every-day grocery stores. I stock up at Trader Joe's and, for St. Louisans, at Global Foods in Kirkwood. You could also roast your own, either in the oven or on a gas stove.
SPINACH Baby spinach cooks so quickly, add it at the very last minute. I take the time to slice off the stems but this is mostly for aesthetics. If you use regularly curly spinach, it takes longer to cook so add it with the roasted peppers.
SLOW COOKER vs STOVETOP Regular readers know that I like the "idea" of slow cookers but am often disappointed by the bland, mushy-texture results. NOT HERE! In fact, I liked the slow cooker version a tiny bit better than the stovetop version, the flavors really melded together with longer, slower cooking