Red Lentil and Cauliflower Curry

Recipe adapted from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

I’ll be the first to admit that curry is not the sexiest looking dish – in fact it’s pretty mucky looking. But this recipe is so ridiculously good that I looked past that fact and I hope that you will too.

As far as a “one pot meal” goes, this recipe is pretty essential but CAN be time consuming. The easiest way possible to keep it simple is to prep ahead of time. If you have all the veggies washed, chopped and ready to go, you can have this satisfying meal in your belly in under an hour. The prep could even be done the morning of, if you’d like since chopped veggies keep relatively well in the refrigerator.

Although I adapted this recipe from Veganomicon, my boyfriend Matt said “you added more than you kept” about the recipe, which is very true. A lot of that has to do with my habit of utilizing the ingredients I already have in my refrigerator and making substitutions according to that. This is a great way to both save money and a way of making a base recipe your own. Take, for example, the fact that I am NEVER out of onion, yet somehow I was. The obvious substitute for onion is shallot, but I didn’t have any of those either. What I did have was fennel, which as you probably know, has a black licorice scent and flavor when raw, but once cooked it tends to resemble that of an onion. I would have never thought of fennel for a curry dish, but it ended up being just delightful.

Another nontraditional substitution I made was to use quinoa (an ancient grain chock full of essential omega 3’s and other amino acids and vitamins) rather than white rice. It’s a hell of a lot healthier for you, plus using quinoa really cuts down the amount of empty carbohydrates that rice would normally supply.

So, lets get down to business! Here’s what you’ll need…

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil 1 bulb fennel, diced 1 large cubanelle pepper 1 large white sweet potato, peeled and chopped 1 small zucchini, slivered or diced 1 small tomato, diced 2 teaspoons curry powder 1 tsp ginger powder ½ teaspoon turmeric 1 teaspoon cinnamon 2 teaspoons cumin 2 teaspoons coriander 1 teaspoon Patak’s mild curry paste (optional, but really adds a flavor boost) 1 ½ cups red lentils, rinsed 4 cups vegetable broth or water 1 small cauliflower head, trimmed into small florets 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice salt + pepper to taste 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to directions on box plain Greek yogurt (optional) garlic chives (for garnish)

Over medium-high heat, add the fennel to heated oil in a large saucepan and sauté for about 5 minutes until you see a nice browning effect. Add in the cubanelles, white sweet potato, and zucchini into the pan and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add in all the spices and stir briskly for about a minute, then slowly pour in the veggie stock and/or water (note: I generally like using a combination of the two – it makes for a very low-sodium yet full-bodied flavor. Here, I used 2 cups of each) and the lentils. Cover the pot and raise heat to high – allow the mixture to boil for about 3 minutes before turning your heat down to medium low. Allow a light simmer for 12 minutes. At this point, add in the chopped cauliflower, mix around a bit, then cover the pan and simmer for another 20 minutes. You want your cauliflower to still have a bit of crispness, so that’s a good way to test if it needs more time on the heat or not.

If your mixture is too soupy, try simmering for 5-10 minutes uncovered and that should take care of it. If your mixture is too dense, add a little bit of water and stir and you’ll be all set.

Once you’re happy with the consistency, remove from heat and add the lime. And salt + pepper to taste At this point it’s going to be smelling pretty darn scrumptious and as tempting as it will be to start shoveling it into your watering mouth, a small bit of advice...the longer you let curry sit after its initial heating, the more flavor the vegetables absorb and ultimately the more tasty it will be. So I suggest you let it sit for at least 20 minutes before digging in.

For presentation, plate your cooked quinoa, and then cover with curry mixture. I garnished with garlic chives from my garden, and (after the below photos were taken) added a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

*This post was originally written for The Urban Jungle international blog collective, which unfortunately no longer exists, so I'm posting it here so it's not lost forever!