Miso-Tamarind Lentils

Continuing my adventures in cooking without cumin (a temporary situation until my shipment arrives!! NEVER would I voluntarily give up cumin! <3), today’s lunch was a simple, tasty, sweet’n’sour lentil dish. I like to come up with new things to do with tamarind paste, since usually I only use it for Pad Thai, which means that it sits sadly in my fridge wishing it had some higher purpose in life. (Not that there is any higher purpose than my totally badass Pad Thai, but, you know, sometimes it’s nice to have other uses for such a unique ingredient!)

This dish came together quickly and easily. You can always double or triple it to serve more people or if you want to get a few more meals out of it.

1 Tbsp olive oil (or vegetable or coconut oil, any oil you like)
1 onion, chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping Tbsp ginger
1 Tbsp red miso (or try some other kind of miso if that’s what you’ve got!)
2 tsp tamarind paste
1 cup brown lentils (green might work too!)
2.5 cups water
1/4-1/3 cup nutritional yeast
drizzle of toasted sesame oil (optional – use whatever oil is on hand if you don’t have any)
2-3 scallions, finely chopped
a few handfuls of spinach leaves
splash of lime juice (optional)
sriracha (optional)
cooked rice for serving (I always use brown basmati)

Heat the oil over medium heat in a pot large enough to cook the lentils. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes, till translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, give it a stir, then add the miso and tamarind. Stir it up pretty well, but don’t worry if the pastes are still kinda lumpy, because you’re about to add water which will facilitate their even distribution throughout the dish. Pour in the water (see, I told you!) and lentils. Turn the heat up to high. When it reaches a boil (it should do so pretty quickly), turn the heat all the way back down to low, put a lid on the pot, and let it simmer for about 40 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pot (give it a stir and add a little more water if it is!).

If you’re ready to eat it now, proceed immediately to the next step. If not, it’s fine to let it sit in the pot and cool for a bit, and then do the next steps when it’s eatin’ time.

Turn the heat to medium-low. Add the toasted sesame oil (or whatever oil you’re using in its place). Let it heat up for a few seconds, then stir in the scallions and spinach. Add the nutritional yeast and the lime juice and/or sriracha (if using), stirring continuously for a minute or two.

Taste for seasoning; adjust as necessary. Serve with rice.

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