Lemon Lentils with Spinach

I love the taste and dense richness of legumes and that doesn’t even count all the healthy nutrients they contain.  So when this recipe appeared in our local paper, courtesy of a restaurant chef in Calgary, I had to try it—with alterations, of course.  In addition to not using oil for sautéing, I increased the fresh spinach.  Why use only one cup when you can use four and reduce the calorie count per serving at the same time?  It’s a no-brainer for a food refashionista. 

According to the recipe, this dish will serve 6-8 as an accompaniment to lamb or chicken, but I used it as a main dish for lunch as it is filling and satisfying and got four 1-cup servings. 

This recipe also came with some restaurant touches (generated by a cook with lots of time and a larder full of ingredients) such as julienned onion and spices that begin as seeds and are toasted and then ground.  I’ve indicated this in the recipe below, but you can always just chop the onions and, if you’re like me and don’t have seeds only ground spices, you can use those.  This is not to say that looks aren’t important or that toasting the cumin and coriander seeds might not add an additional layer of subtlety and make this dish even more delicious—just that you can improvise with what you have.

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 4 1-cup servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. chicken broth powder + ½ cup water or ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 medium yellow onion, julienned (to do this just cut the onion into strips)
  • 4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 4 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp. toasted and ground coriander seed (or just ground coriander)
  • 1 tbsp. toasted and ground cumin seed (or just ground cumin)
  • 1 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1½ cups red or yellow lentils, picked over and rinsed 
  • 1 lemon, skin washed
  • ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • Goat yogurt as a garnish

Directions

  1. Heat chicken broth powder + water mixture or chicken broth over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and stir until onions are tender.
  3. Add spices: cumin, coriander, chili powder, and cinnamon stick.
  4. Stir for 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant (if the pan gets dry, add a little water).
  5. Add broth and lentils.
  6. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice into the pot.  Then add rest of lemon as well.
  7. Stirring often to prevent sticking, bring pot to simmer over medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes until lentils are cooked.  (Add more broth if lentils are getting dry but not yet cooked.)
  8. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon halves.
  9. Stir in cilantro, garam masala, and spinach.
  10. Cook until spinach is wilted.
  11. Top each serving with a dollop of yogurt.

For Weight Watchers: A 1-cup serving is 3 points on both the Points and PointsPlus plans.

 (Adapted from a recipe by Chef Andy Bujak, Boxwood Cafe, Calgary.)

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