Thanksgiving usually marks the end of my yearly fall fanaticism, and the beginning of the inevitable resignation to winter that goes into full-swing after the New Years. I’m no longer obsessed with the myriad of fall flavors, its squashes and medium-body soups and wines, I just want to stay warm. I hibernate, so to speak. I start cooking meals at home with more regularity; I find excuses to stay in.
After all of the holiday buzz this curried lentil and sweet potato dish landed exactly on that bridge, a lazy Sunday after a flurry of a holiday weekend. It’s from the New York Times Thanksgiving coverage two weeks ago, from an article by Melissa Clark about vegetarian dishes fitting the meal. But really, it had my name all over it, because the sweet potatoes were made spicy, not saccharine, and the Indian-spiced lentils and greens were exactly the health kick I needed after this weekend of heavy intake, with the ease of a one-pot meal. I don’t need a holiday dinner to find an excuse to make it.
I know it’s not easy on the eyes–heck, it would be a great contestant in an ugliest gourmet contest, but as Cathy so aptly notes, the best home-cooked food is rarely ready for its close-up. Honestly, it was so good, we couldn’t have cared less.
One year ago: Blondies
Curried Lentils With Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard
Adapted from The New York Times 11/14/07
Yields 8 to 10 side-dish servings; 6 main-course servings.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded if desired, then minced
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth as needed
2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into
1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1 bay leaf
1 pound Swiss chard, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/3 cup finely chopped tamari almonds, for garnish (optional), available in health food stores
1/4 cup chopped scallions, for garnish.
1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, garam masala, curry powder and jalapeno. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
2. Stir in 4 cups broth, sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. (If lentils seem dry, add up to 1 cup stock, as needed.) Stir in chard and salt and pepper, and continue cooking until lentils are tender and chard is cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes total.
3. Just before serving, stir in cilantro, lime zest and juice. Spoon into a large, shallow serving dish. Garnish with almonds if desired and scallions.