This slow cooker red curry lentil stew with sweet potatoes and cauliflower is winter dinner gold. Easy to put together on a winter night, it’s enough to feed a crowd with plenty to freeze for later. So good you won’t mind adding it to your weekly meal plan to enjoy on more than one evening.
Lentils are lovely — I enjoy them in every form, and that’s not because of their beneficial qualities. (Designating this food as “healthy” is not my favorite, as designating foods as being Good/Bad or Healthy/Unhealthy is something I avoid. I will admit that Twinkies are one thing and root vegetables are another thing entirely, but making salt or sugar or butter or bacon the villain and kale the hero is how we get ourselves in trouble.
What I love about red lentils, besides their color which is more of a peachy-pink than ruby red before cooking, is that they cook really quickly, and create a creamy, saucy texture that pleases me and enhances whatever is cooked along with them.
Finding them is easy, even in mainstream grocery stores. There’s a Bob’s Red Mill version, and a Goya Brands version; and in Indian and South Asian markets, you’ll find them sold in bulk, often by their Hindi name, masoor dal. This recipe caught my eye on the lovely blog A Sweet Spoonful, the creation of my friend Megan Gordon. I loved that she paired red lentils with sweet potatoes AND cauliflower, two big, beautiful winter favorites, and that it’s a slow-cooker recipe, which is just what I wanted on the weekend when I saw itChopping the cauliflower reminded me to act on my intention of using every bit of everything that I can possibly use in my cooking. I’m a longtime fan of broccoli stems, and wouldn’t dream of throwing out a rotisserie chicken carcass without making even a small pot of stock from the remainders, but I’m late to cauliflower party.
I used to keep only the tippy tips of it, the flowering beauty bits; now I work with the stalk and the leaves, trimming away only the tired and over the hill edges and such. For this recipe I used only florets as called for, but I kept all the rest of it and used it up in stir fries, simple pickles, and soups through the week. The lower left part of the picture is what went into this stew. All the trimmed bits went somewhere, according to cooking time. Florets cook fastest so they go in later, as do the green leafy portions. Chopped stems go in first so they can soften up.This recipe seems long, because there are seasonings aplenty, but it’s really just scoop scoop scoop with the spices and curry paste, and a bit of chopping: cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and onions in bigger amounts, with a quick business on garlic and ginger.Slow-cooker step one, sweet potatoes and onions, the baseline! Nothing to brown or cook separately or ahead. Low-fuss with big payoff at serving time.Here’s everything in and time to cover and press go. I adore the little lentil orbs sitting on top. I put in cardamom pods because I had them, and added a teaspoon of ground cinnamon since I did not have a cinnamon stick. I cut back the tomato paste from a 6 oz. can to 2 tablespoons, as I thought it might take over and figured 2 tablespoons would suit me. It did but more would be fine too.This is about 3 hours in, where the lentil have released their purty pink color into the ether, but have yet to dissolve into a creamy texture which thickens this from soup to stew/curry.We served it with a simple white and wild rice. I would love it with tortillas or pita bread, or hot cornbread with butter. The recipe makes plenty so I am keeping this in mind as a party dish, as it’s vegan and versatile and delicious and portable. We ate it twice and froze the rest for winter suppers, and it reheated wonderfully.
Slow Cooker Red Curry Lentil Stew
I think you’ll love it too, and I hope you let me know if you try the recipe. Do visit A Sweet Spoonful for more lovely recipes and thoughtful commentary on food and life, and check out Megan’s wonderful cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings. The best of breakfast, with reminders that morning noon or night, it’s always breakfast time.
If you like this vegan stew recipe, check out the Fearrington House recipe for Creamy Winter Greens Soup.
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 1 medium head cauliflower, florets only, about 3 cups
- 4 1/2 cups peeled, cubed sweet potato (from about 2 medium)
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups (400g) dried red lentils, rinsed
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick, or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves, to top
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced, to top
- toasted cashew halves, to top (optional)
- Cooked brown rice or naan, to serve
- Plain Greek yogurt, to serve (omit to keep recipe vegan)
- Coat a 5-6 quart electric slow cooker with cooking spray.
- Place the cauliflower, sweet potato, onion, water, lentils, broth, curry paste, garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon stick, salt, and tomato paste in the slow cooker.
- Stir well to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.
- Turn off the heat, stir in coconut milk and remove cinnamon stick.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Serve with rice, chopped cilantro, green onions, toasted cashews and a spoonful of plain yogurt