You can fill more than Half Your Plate with this traditional Indian dish. It’s a complete vegetarian meal and a super-simple way to fill all your plate with big flavour and a last-second blast of dark green nutrition. You’ll love the bright finishing touch baby spinach adds to the dish and how easy it is to try this healthy trick anytime you cook up your favourite soup, stew or pasta!
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 with leftovers
For the Dal
4 tablespoons (60 mL) of butter
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of fennel seed
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of coriander seeds
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of cumin seeds
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of curry powder
2 large freshly chopped onions
4 or 5 minced garlic cloves
1 jalapeño, halved, seeded, minced (optional)
2 cups (480 mL) of red lentils, rinsed
6 cups (1.4 L) of water
1 teaspoon (5 mL) of sea salt
1 large 11-oz. (312 g) tote of baby spinach
For the Rice
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of butter
1 cup (240 mL) of white basmati rice
2 cups (480 mL) of water
1/2 teaspoon (2.4 mL) of sea salt
Begin with the dal. Melt, swirl and sizzle the butter in a small pot over medium-high heat until it foams and lightly browns. Toss in the whole spices and stir briefly as they sizzle and brighten. Add the curry powder and stir a moment longer before adding the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly as the textures soften and flavours brighten, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the lentils, water and salt. Briefly bring the works to a full furious boil than lower to the slowest steadiest simmer possible and continue cooking until the lentils are tender and delicious, 20 minutes or so.
Meanwhile make the rice. Measure the grains into a second small pot. Pour in the water and sprinkle in the salt. Briefly bring the works to a full furious boil than lower to the slowest steadiest simmer possible and cover. Continue cooking until the rice is tender and delicious, 15 minutes or so. Rest without uncovering for 5 minutes or so as the grains finish absorbing moisture.
When the dal is done carefully stir the spinach into the works until the bright green leaves fully wilt. Serve and share the spinach dal over the rice.
Adding baby spinach to pastas, soups and stews just before serving is one of my favourite kitchen tricks. When you stir the tender leaves in last the dishes residual heat wilts them and preserves the spinach’s intense bright green nutrition and flavour.
© Chef Michael Smith 2016 – #HalfYourPlate
A bowl full of freshly made corn polenta is one of the world’s great grain dishes. Polenta is a traditional Italian pudding thickened with cornmeal. Freshly made, it has a soft, creamy, addictively delicious texture. It can also be served by cooling and hardening it, then slicing it and grilling or pan-searing it until it forms a beautiful crispy crust with a creamy interior.
This simple, versatile rice pilaf is distinguished by its method of sautéing the grains briefly in oil or butter before adding liquid which adds flavour and helps the grains stay fluffy and separate. Rice pilaf is also a great jumping-off point for freestyle flavouring.