07 Jan 2023: Red Curry Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

Happy 2023!

One of the cooking books I received this year was Christopher Kimball’s Cook What You Have from Milk Street Kitchens. It has really been a game-changer for me in terms of meal planning and food shopping in that, using a roster of about 25 regular ingredients, I’m starting to raid the ‘fridge and pantry as opposed to setting out to food shop for a specific recipe. The shift in thinking may be subtle, but it is having quite an effect on what I shop for and, more importantly, what our weekly food shopping costs. I also am enjoying not being boxed in to cooking what sounded like a good idea when I prepared our grocery list but no longer appeals to me.

And I like a little spontaneousness.

Of course, there are times when I’ll discover a recipe that I’d like to give a whirl, such as this Red Curry Lentil recipe developed by Lidey Heuck, a contributor to the Food/Cooking columns of the New York Times. The needed ingredients actually turned out to be in alignment with Cook What You Have’s theory of cooking – we actually had everything except a bag of baby spinach on hand, proving that going off on a recipe hunt will still be no problem.

This was a deliciously easy recipe, ready in under an hour – and it makes for some really great leftovers!

Red Curry Lentils with Sweet Potato and Spinach

Recipe from Lidey Heuck, New York Times


  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 TBSP Thai red curry paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 TBSP)
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about 1 TBSP)
  • 1 red chile, such as Fresno or serrano, halved, seeds and ribs removed, then minced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 c red lentils, rinsed
  • 4 c vegetable stock (low sodium)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 (13-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 (4- to 5-ounce) bag baby spinach
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
  • Toasted unsweetened coconut flakes, for serving (optional)


  1. In a Dutch oven or pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high (I needed a bit more – perhaps because the Dutch oven is so efficient with heat). Add the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the browned sweet potatoes to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot and set the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Add the curry paste, garlic, ginger, chile and turmeric, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the lentils, stock, salt and browned sweet potatoes to the pot and bring to a boil over high. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are just tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. Add the coconut milk and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the lentils are creamy and falling apart, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Add the spinach and stir until just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Off the heat, stir in the lime juice and taste for seasoning (add salt to taste, but I didn’t think this was needed).
  8. Divide among shallow bowls and top with cilantro and coconut flakes, if using.

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