Thursday, January 20, 2011

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard

For the last few days, Nashville has been gray. All day. The sky is pretty much the same color from sunrise to sunset – and let me tell you, it is not such a pretty color. Where is the warm and sunny South I’ve come to love? I tell you, I think it’s hibernating for the winter. And really, that’s what this weather is making me want to do too. Put on some sweats, cozy up under a pile of blankets with the remote control, and hibernate ‘til spring.

Since giving up on leaving the house for the next few months isn’t really an option for most of us, I offer you up the next best thing – a warm and cozy meal that will help you through these chilly nights and give you lunch leftovers to look forward to on an otherwise dreary day. My cure for the gray-day doldrums? Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard.

This sweet and savory dish may not be the most glamorous looking meal you’ve ever made, but I promise you, its taste more than makes up for its looks. Imagine, if you will, creamy sweet potatoes, hearty lentils, and tender Swiss chard cooked together with garlic, onions, and just the right amount of spice. Take that flavor combo, brighten it up with lime zest and juice and a healthy dose of cilantro and scallions, and you’ve got a flavor power punch coming your way. Admittedly there are a lot of ingredients in this dish, but don’t let that dissuade you. The prep work is easy and most of the cook time is hands-free so you can sit back and enjoy a glass of wine… or head to the couch and curl up under a blanket.

One Year Ago: Baked Fudge and Chicken and Mixed Sweet Pepper Pilaf

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded if desired, then minced
1 1/2 tsp. garam masala *
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth or low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones
1 bay leaf
1 pound Swiss chard, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup scallions, chopped

* Garam masala is a spice blend common in Indian and other South Asian cuisines. It has a lot of flavor but not a lot of heat. You can find it in the spice aisle of grocery stores and in international markets.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeno, garam masala, and curry powder. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Stir in 4 cups of the broth and the sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. Make sure you stir gently as the lentils cook so you don’t break them up and make them mushy. If the lentils seem dry, add up to 1 cup stock, as needed. (I didn’t need to add any extra broth.)

Add the chard, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking until the lentils and chard are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes more.

Just before serving, stir in the cilantro, lime zest and juice. Spoon into individual serving bowls and garnish with the scallions.

Serves 6 as a main course, 8 to 10 as a side dish.


  1. mmmm this sounds really good- I'm definitely making this soon. Love that you're posting veg recipes!

    Also- I started a little blog of my own, still in progress, but I'll keep updating! You've inspired me!

  2. Heather - Thank you! We actually eat vegetarian meals a lot around here. It's been sort of a gradual transition. At the point I eat veg meals for lunch pretty much every day (unless I'm at a restaurant), and we eat meatless for dinner a couple of times a week. I figure it's healthy for us and it saves us some money, too!

    I'm excited you started a blog to chronicle your progress. I must admit I found it a few days ago and look forward to your updates!

  3. That looks awesome! I love lentils, I love yams, and I love curry so I definitely have to try this one.

  4. Wow, this is such an interesting combination of ingredients! I never would've thought of putting sweet potatoes with lentils. I'm definitely trying this.

  5. Megan - Thanks! Those are some of my favorite foods/flavors too :)

  6. SusanMallery - I agree! I would not have thought of this combo either, and I was afraid it might be too many mushy foods, but somehow it all works and is delicious. I hope you like it!



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