07-03-25_0915_pitacurry.jpgDave and our son are crazy about dips. When I saw this simple recipe from Nava Atlas’ February 2007 In a Vegetarian Kitchen newsletter (recipe follows), I imagined a meal where we could all enjoy a fun, nutritional powerhouse. I halved the recipe, and this suited us fine. I did toast pita points.

RED LENTIL DAL WITH SPINACH
Serves 6 or more

Dal, a sort of hot dip made of well-cooked legumes, is meant to be scooped up with freshly made Indian breads, such as chapatis. If you can’t find chapatis, try very fresh pita breads or any other fresh flat bread you prefer. Tiny red lentils, available in natural food stores and imported food shops, cook to an appealing orange-gold color. Spinach boosts the visual and nutritional impact of this dish.

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 tsp. each: freshly grated ginger, ground cumin, and turmeric
10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
salt to taste
fresh flat bread (chapatis, pita, etc.) of your choice

Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until golden.

Add the lentils, 3 cups of water, and spices. Bring to a simmer, then simmer over low heat, covered, for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are quite mushy. The texture should be that of a very thick soup. If need be, simmer uncovered until the mixture thickens up.

Serve at once with fresh flat bread.

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Once again, Nava Atlas has created a flawless recipe that’s easy to cook and lovely to eat. The dal is beautiful and tasty. If making a full meal, prepare a side dish, as I have here.

RECIPE: simple; this would be a sunny member of an array of small dishes on your table
PREP TIME:
all in one pot, less than 30 minutes
TASTE:
hearty lentils and smooth spices

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07-03-25_0918_dal.jpgThe side dish I made with this dal was the “Broccoli-Cheddar Loaf,” from the January 2006 issue of Vegetarian Times. This is a bread pudding that feels great to prepare, basically because the “bread” part of the recipe has already been made for you. I did use a loaf of day-old French bread. The other parts are also easy: red onion, frozen broccoli, cheddar cheese, eggs.

Don’t be intimidated by placing your loaf pan within a baking pan of hot water in the oven: it’s easy and saves your loaf from scorching. This will take less than an hour to cook.

The loaf can be sliced to serve. It’s warm and cheesy and eggy; almost a guilty pleasure to eat.

RECIPE: as a side dish, this will dumbfound your dinner guests
PREP TIME:
quick prep and less than an hour in the oven
TASTE:
sweet veggies, warm bread and cheese

Let’s cook some chicken next time. I want to try “Moroccan-Inspired Apricot-Braised Chicken,” from the All Recipes site. I’ll serve it with a side of “Sweet-and-Spicy Cabbage,” from America’s Everyday Diabetes Cookbook, by Katherine E. Younker. Come back to my site on Saturday, May 12, to see my results. And keep cooking!