do you ever find yourself in a leftover lentil situation?
by that i'm referring to a pantry jammed with near-empty jars holding small, uneven quantities of different lentil varieties. each amount isn't quite enough to cook on its own, but clearly they need to be used for something .... and they've been sitting around for what seems like forever .... it's one of those kitchen dilemmas.
you've been there? then this is the stew for you. no idea what i'm talking about? then go out and get some lentils, quick, 'cause you'll want to make this anyway. it has toasted coconut on top!
this time i combined red lentils, which break down to form a creamy base, with green and french lentils, which keep their shape and make the stew chunky and really satisfying. coconut and lentils go great together, so coconut milk's a natural here too.
cumin seeds add their unique warm fragrance and little pops of crazy-good flavor and crunch throughout. i can never stop swooning over the magic of cumin. oh, and can't forget the garlic and ginger (for me the question is not what to put these guys in, but what not to put them in?)
during my lentil search i crossed paths with some red quinoa, so i threw a couple of handfuls of that in as well. and because i like pretty much everything with a kick or three of spice, i couldn't resist adding a chopped jalapeno and a generous pinch of dried red chile flakes to the pot. (and i should add that whole deal's built on the usual ensemble of aromatics: onion, carrot, and celery.) after an hour's simmering on the stovetop, i enriched the stew with a spoonful of coconut butter to make it extra luscious.
the result is a big pot of creamy, fragrant and satisfying lentil-quinoa-coconut deliciousness. brightened with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of crisp, golden toasted coconut flakes, this is a bowl to cozy up with any time. (note about that toasted coconut: the trick is not to nibble your way through all of the nutty, toasty curls before they make it to the soup - they are so addictive! might want to make extra to snack on, just to be safe.)
the stew will keep beautifully in the fridge for days, its flavor getting even better as the ingredients meld. simmer a batch on sunday and you'll have a workweek's worth of healthy lunches or dinners ready to go (or freeze in single-serving containers for longer storage).
triple lentil stew with red quinoa + toasted coconut
serves 6 as a main course, 8 as a first course
i used a combination of red, green, and french lentils here. feel free to mix and match other lentil varieties (or even sub-in cooked/canned chickpeas or other beans) and change the amounts according to what you have on hand. it's versatile. blonde quinoa can be used in place of the red, too.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 large carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 ribs celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 jalapeno (including seeds), minced
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
one 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
4 cups water
1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup dried green or brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup dried french or beluga lentils, rinsed
1/4 cup red quinoa, rinsed
1/2 tsp red chile flakes (or to taste)
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon coconut butter
freshly squeezed lemon juice, to finish (1 to 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup coconut flakes, toasted for about 5 minutes at 350F (i used the toaster oven for this; watch them carefully, they brown quickly)
heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large pot over a medium flame. add the onion, carrot, and celery and a pinch of salt. saute until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. add jalapeno, ginger, and garlic, and cook for another minute. add cumin seeds to the pot and toast them, stirring often, about 1 minute more.
add red chile flakes, coconut milk, water, lentils, and quinoa to the pot, along with a big pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. stir well and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
cook at a gentle simmer for about 1 hour, then stir in the coconut butter.
add lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper, to taste. transfer to bowls and garnish each serving with toasted coconut curls.