Red Lentil and Butternut Squash Curry

You know those times when you have a craving for a particular dish? (Today it was butternut squash risotto). So, you go to the store and attempt to purchase your ingredients, but they don’t have everything you need and you don’t want to venture too far into the store on account it’s pitch black indoors because there’s no power in the store. Then, you come home, realize you don’t have enough aborio rice to make said risotto, so, you scrap the idea when you spy red lentils and a giant container of curry powder in your cupboard and then switch gears. No? So it’s just me then, eh?

So, yes, that was me today. By the time work was over and I’d had enough of my apartment water pressure issues and the Super and the Landlord and management company, I was upset and the only thing that helped was being in the kitchen creating this curry dish for dinner. Cooking is so therapeutic for me, as I’ve written before. Anyway, this was fun to make and my apartment now smells like curry. I’m pretty happy. Enjoy!

Red Lentil and Butternut Squash Curry with Couscous

Mind you, I bought a smaller butternut squash (hey, it was only .75 a pound! How cheap for NYC!) and didn’t have much in my vegetable crisper besides baby carrots and an onion, so that’s what I put into this curry. Now, technically, I’m sure this isn’t a real curry, but hey, who cares? Use what you have on hand. Got a potato? Use it. Got some celery? Use it. You can figure it out along the way, just like I did. My measurements for the spices might be on the cautious side, so, please, adjust and add more if needed. And you know what? My dinner was delicious and a perfect end to my looooong day.

  • 1 small butternut squash, diced small, about 2-3 cups
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 10 baby carrots, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Cup of red lentils
  • 1 32 oz. container of Vegetable Stock (I use Kitchen Basics brand w/o sodium)
  • 2Tb olive oil
  • 1 TB curry powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp dried jalapeños (I used California crushed ones from Penzy’s)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 tsp corriander
  • 1 TB tomato paste (I used a generous squeeze from a tube of Mutti, double concentrated tomato paste)
  • 1 TB crushed red pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup couscous, cooked

Heat a Dutch Oven on medium hight heat, add the extra virgin olive oil and then add the garlic, onion and carrots. Sauté until somewhat soft. Add a few dashes of salt to sweat the onions a bit. Add the squash and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add lentils, vegetable broth and all the spices and tomato paste. Give it a good stir and bring it to a boil. Turn down the flame and cover to simmer for 45-50 minutes, or, until the lentils and squash are soft and a majority of the liquid is gone. (While curry is cooking, you can bring a cup of water, salt and dash of olive oil to boil, add a cup of couscous, stir, cover and take off the stove burner. The couscous will be done in about 5 minutes.) Serve the curry over the couscous.

Spicy Lentils with Kale and Pearled Couscous

So, it’s around dinner time and I’m hungry. I look in my (almost bare) cupboard and find a can of lentils and two cans of diced tomatoes, one plain and one with jalapenos. I know that in my fridge I have some kale, onion, garlic, carrots and a parsnip. I also remember that I have some pearled couscous as well.


What can I do with this?

So, without a recipe I sauté half the onion and two cloves of garlic, add some diced carrots and the parsnip. Then I decided to add an entire carton of Kitchen Basics Vegetable stock and add a bay leaf and a few dried hot peppers along with the kale and can of lentils (rinsed and drained). In the meantime I’ve also cooked the couscous and set it aside, figuring I’ll add at least half of it to the soupy stew mixture.

The recipe that follows can be altered with whatever veggies you have on hand. If you’ve got a sweet potato or raisins, add them. If you have no couscous, then skip it. It’s all about using what you have….and not being afraid to try something new. Now go pour yourself a glass of wine and have some fun!

2 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ yellow onion chopped
1 parsnip, cubed
1 bunch of kale (or collards or spinach)
Handful of baby carrots, diced
1 can of lentils
1 can of diced tomatoes w/zesty jalapenos
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 container of vegetable stock or broth
2-3 dried chili peppers
A dash of thyme
A dash of chili pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup cooked pearled couscous (cooked)
Salt and pepper to taste

*I’m betting that a handful of yellow raisins or even dried dates would be quite tasty as well.

Sauté the garlic and onions with cooking spray or a Tablespoon of olive or canola oil. Add the parsnip and carrot and cook until tender. Add the carton of vegetable stock/broth and the two cans of diced tomatoes. Add kale and wait until kale softens then add the lentils. Let simmer on low for 20 minutes or so until the veggies are soft and the kale is tender. Add the couscous and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Serve and eat.