Oh you know, I was sitting back the other day talkin’ about lentils with a couple of friends (true story). They were discussing the merits of french green lentils and black lentils but I think they were disrespecting the red lentil just a little bit. I don’t think you need to pick sides because lentils are delicious, whatever colour they happen to be. Red lentils turn soft and I think that’s why my friends were dissing it. Let’s celebrate that texture! It’s like a lentil hug that gives in, slides around, and gets all smooshy like the best kind of kiss. And you can’t pick a better lentil for a good old fashioned dal, right?
This dal is full of broccoli. Chopped up, pulsed-in-a-processor broccoli (but if you’re got mad knife skills, feel free to use them) which is a bit of a trick if you’re serving this to someone who doesn’t like broccoli. Broccoli? What broccoli? Or if you’ve got cauliflower, whirl some of that up instead. The finely chopped broccoli melds well with the texture of the red lentils and the whole dish seems creamy and wholesome.
Did I mention that it’s spicy? Because it is. You can tone down the spice using a mild spice blend and not adding in extra chilis, but that’s how I roll. But I also like a bit of sweetness to my spicy, so I added in some dates instead of honey or other sweetener. If you’re staying away from refined sugars, than you’ll love the natural sweetness that dates lend to the dish. I minced them up fine so that they blend easily into the dal. Lightly sweet, spicy and creamy while being totally vegan and healthy to boot? Yum.
creamy broccoli & red lentil dal
(inspired from Vegan Yum Yum)
You can make this as soupy or stew-like, whatever you like best. Serve alongside rice, naan, or your favourite grain or eat it up plain like we did. It makes a lovely flavourful meal.
1 T coconut oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 T fresh ginger, minced
2 generous T curry paste (I use Patak’s hot Garam Masala)
1 c red lentils
1 c coconut milk
2-3 c vegetable stock
2 large stalks of broccoli, stems & florets
6-8 dates, finely minced
1 c unsweetened almond milk
1/2 t red pepper flakes (optional)
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 t sweet paprika
2 stalks green onion, sliced or chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Melt coconut oil in a large, deep skillet or your favorite soup pot. Add in onion and ginger and let things get soft over medium heat. Dollop in the curry paste and mix around before stirring in the red lentils. Once that gets a good shimmer and well mixed, stir in the vegetable stock, coconut milk and chopped dates and let that cook, covered for 15 minutes, adding water if the mixture becomes too dry.
Meanwhile, chop your broccoli into large bits and throw the stalks first followed by the florets into a food processor. Pulse several times until you’ve got a minced mess of green bits. If you don’t have a food processor, put one on your wish list now! Or just chop the broccoli as finely as you can – think of it as a zen meditation process. Dump minced broccoli into the lentils and stir, adding in the almond milk. Add in red pepper flakes, if you like your curry extra spicy (I do). Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the broccoli becomes tender. Stir in some lemon juice, paprika and taste, adding salt if needed. Serve in bowls with a scattering of sliced green onions or fresh parsley, if desired. Makes 3-4 servings.