Friday night I made a recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food, which I received as a gift four or five years ago and liked so much that I bought his How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food. I don’t think I’ve ever met a recipe in those two volumes that I didn’t like, and they are super accessible for every level of cook. He includes diagrams for basic food preparation techniques as well as information on how to choose and prepare fresh produce, different cuts of meat, and more. He also offers lots of substitutions, which might be my favorite thing about his recipes.
For this recipe, I substituted one giant and very tough sweet potato for the russet potatoes and sauteed some onions and garlic before adding the lentils because onions and garlic make the world go round. For the liquid I used a cup of coconut milk, a cup of chicken stock, and a cup of water. The final product was served over a 50-50 mix of white and brown rice, a rather smart last-minute decision because a tablespoon of curry powder is an awful lot of curry. I also forgot to garnish with yogurt and cilantro because by the time dinner was ready we were both starving. Science Guy loved it and may not have even noticed it was vegan. Winner winner non-chicken dinner!
Lentils and Potatoes with Curry by Mark Bittman, my changes italicized
- 1/2 large or 1 small onion
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup dried brown lentils, washed and picked over
- 3 1/2 cups water, coconut milk, or vegetable stock, plus more if needed
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 2 medium russet potatoes, or 1 massive sweet potato, peeled and cut into large chunks
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Yogurt for garnish
- Minced fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
- Dice onion and garlic and saute in olive oil and thank God for creating Allium.
- Combine the lentils, liquid, and curry powder in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high-heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low so that the mixture bubbles gently, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils start to absorb the water a bit, about 15 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and cover the pan completely. Cook undisturbed for 10 minutes or so, then stir gently and check to make sure the lentils aren’t too dry. If so, add a little more liquid. Add salt as the lentils become tender.
- Cover and continue cooking until the lentils are beginning to turn to mush and the potatoes are tender at the center, another 5 to 10 minutes; add liquid if necessary. The mixture should be moist but not soup. Add lots of black pepper, stir, then taste and adjust the seasoning and serve, garnished with yogurt and cilantro.