When I first went vegan, this one-pot coconut curried lentils, rice, and greens recipe was one of the very first dishes I created, and it’s still a favorite at our house. We eat this for a whole hoard of occasions. When we are lacking motivation to cook, when we need to feed a large table of people (it’s great for making in bulk!), when it’s cold and we crave a comforting meal, when our bodies tell us we can benefit from a protein-packed meal (such as if we have an injury that needs carbs and protein to be repaired) — to name a few!
In just one pot, it packs SO much of the good stuff for a healthy vegan diet – like beneficial garlic and onion, high-fiber lentils, whole-grain brown rice, and antioxidant-rich green leafy vegetables. You really get a nutritious bang for your buck. And, it’s just really delicious – which is really important in our house.
Years ago, when I was a vegetarian, I “learned” that to get complete proteins, you have to combine beans or legumes with grains. Everyone knows that, right? Turns out, that’s wrong! While it’s great that this dish contains both lentils and brown rice, it looks like folks who promote the “protein combining myth” are full of beans!
Individually, beans, legumes, and grains are already a complete protein source. Who knew?! And, holy wow vegans, what a relief!
Kale or spinach work equally well in this recipe. (I never realized how many kale haters were out there until I published my kale mushroom bread pudding recipe!) I usually go for the kale because it not only benefits the immune system, it’s one of those veggies (like tomatoes) that’s even better for you when cooked. Great news for me, since I like my kale cooked anyway.
Of course you could skip the greens altogether and this dish would still be perfectly wonderful. But why would you?! They’re gorgeous and good for you! So unless the fridge is empty and you’re limited to pantry ingredients, I say go for the greens!
Dinner's Ready With This One Pot Vegan Coconut Lentil Curry
2/3 cup brown or green lentils rinsed (5.3 ounces)
1 cup short grain brown rice (8 ounces)
1 13.5 ounce can light coconut milk or sub 1 3/4/14 ounces cups plant milk - see notes
1 1/2 cups water (12 ounces)
1/2 pound bunch of fresh kale or spinach chopped (about 1 bunch - not baby kale/spinach)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Optional: One cup (8 ounces) chopped fresh parsley 3/4 cup (6 ounces) mixed in with the greens and 1/4 (2 ounces) on top for garnish
Heat 1 tablespoon of water in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add a little water if things begin to stick.
Add the rice, lentils, and curry powder. Stir well, and cook for 1 minute.
Add the water, coconut milk (or other plant milk) and sea salt, and stir well. Heat everything to almost boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
Add the kale/spinach (and parsley, if using - see notes), and mix everything together well, so that the greens are blended into with the hot rice and lentils and are beginning to wilt. Cover, and simmer for another 15 minutes or until the liquid is almost completely absorbed, the rice is cooked, and the kale/spinach is tender.
Remove from the heat and let rest, covered, for 5 minutes. The rice will absorb a little more liquid off the heat. Season with more sea salt, to taste, if needed.
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.
If you want to avoid saturated fat, you can replace the light coconut milk with plant milk. But if you do occasionally include light coconut milk in your diet, it adds a nice flavor to this dish.
• Depending on the size of your pot, you may need to add the kale/spinach about 1/4 at a time. It will reduce in volume quickly as you stir it into the hot rice and lentils. Or, you can reduce the volume of kale/spinach before adding it to the pot by blanching it for a couple of minutes 1) in boiling water on the stove or 2) with about 1/4 cup of water in a covered bowl in the microwave. Drain any remaining liquid before adding to the rice and lentils.