Cooking the “Pretty Simple” Way
My husband Alex and I get this question a lot: “How do you do it? How do you find time to cook healthy real food at home on the regular?”
From the outside, it seems like there’s some magical answer to it all: like a secret cookbook with perfect recipes or a diet plan to follow. Or maybe finding the right grocery delivery service. (Ok, we do use those from time to time!) But to us, it wasn’t like a light bulb moment where we suddenly cooked together daily. It was a process, first with baby steps to get there, and then falling in love with cooking itself.
Don’t get me wrong: I would not say cooking real food at home every day is easy. (In fact, I’d say the opposite, especially if you don’t have a cooking background.) However, once Alex and I started to embrace the process, it became more like a creative outlet than a chore for us. We started to invite friends and family into the cooking process and found that it could be a source of entertainment at the same time. Instead of beating ourselves up about recipes that didn’t taste right or took too long to make, we’d give ourselves the grace to try again tomorrow. And we learned how to slow down and prioritize to make time for cooking and eating well. These lessons over time helped us develop a style of cooking and eating the “pretty simple” way.
A Simple Vegetarian Recipe that We Love
In our new cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking, we share those lessons–10 of them–that helped us start cooking and eating the pretty simple way. And, we share 100 of our favorite pretty simple vegetarian recipes as well. This red lentil coconut curry is one of our very favorite recipes from the book–it got top reviews from testers and it continues to get rave reviews to this day! The creamy, full-flavored lentils are studded with nourishing spinach. Topped over brown rice, it’s an incredibly filling and inexpensive way to do dinner. The star of the recipe is the cilantro chutney: it’s sweet, tart, and the perfect pair to the lightly spicy lentils.
This red lentil coconut curry recipe has no difficult techniques: just pretty simple, time-tested ways to combine and make flavors pop. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!
Red Lentil Coconut Curry with Cilantro Chutney
FOR THE CURRY
- 2 cups uncooked brown basmati rice
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 3 medium garlic cloves
- 1 3- inch nub fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk divided
- ¼ cup red curry paste*
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4- 5 cups baby spinach leaves packed (chopped if leaves are large)
- Make the brown rice according to the package instructions.
- For the curry: Peel and dice the onion. Reserve 1/4 cup for the chutney and set aside; use the remaining portion for the curry. Peel and mince the garlic. Peel and mince the ginger and measure out 2 tablespoons.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute.
- Add the lentils, tomatoes, 1 cup coconut milk, 2 cups water, red curry paste, tomato paste, and kosher salt. Bring to a simmer and cook very gently, just barely bubbling, for 10 to 15 minutes until the lentils are soft (if not, cook a few minutes more until tender).
- Stir in the spinach along with 2 tablespoons coconut milk and cook until the leaves wilt. Taste and add additional kosher salt or coconut milk to taste.
- For the chutney, use an immersion blender or standard blender to blend the reserved 1/4 cup diced onion, cilantro, golden raisins, white wine vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt, and 1/4 cup water. Blend into a thick, smooth sauce.
- To serve, spoon the lentils over rice and top with a dollop of chutney.