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!
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)
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the curry paste, garlic, ginger, chile and turmeric, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the spinach and stir until just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Off the heat, stir in the lime juice and taste for seasoning (add salt to taste, but I didn’t think this was needed).
- Divide among shallow bowls and top with cilantro and coconut flakes, if using.