Spring is in the air, I can tell by the volume of the birds outside my window, which gets louder every morning. Daylight savings was a great help – having that extra hour of light in the evenings feels amazing and allows me to be much more productive towards the end of the day. Soon there will be peas, favas, rhubarb and asparagus. For the time being though, while winter produce is on its way out and spring produce is not quite ready, there are root vegetables.
We’ve been eating variations on this stew for the last couple of weeks, and this version is one of my favorites. It is a hearty one-pot meal that is very simple in preparation.
This dish speaks of both winter and spring, when the earthiness of roasted carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes is combined with the bright notes of lime juice, ginger, turmeric, cardamom and coconut milk. Red rice and lentils bring substance to the dish, and spinach delivers a good dose of green. Enjoy!
Roasted Root Vegetable, Red Rice and Lentil Stew
3 medium carrots
2 medium parsnips
2 small sweet potatoes or 1/2 small winter squash
3 tablespoons coconut oil – divided
few sprigs thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
2 teaspoons cumin seeds – freshly ground
4 green cardamom pods – seeds crushed in mortar and pestle
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
large pinch red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger root
1 small red chili pepper – sliced (optional)
1 large yellow onion – chopped
3/4 cup red rice such as Ruby Red or Bhutan – rinsed under cold water
handful kaffir lime leaves – bruised with the back of a knife (optional)
1/2 cup green lentils – preferably soaked
1 14 oz can Thai coconut milk
1 large or 2 small limes – zest and juice, plus more for serving
4 cups packed chopped spinach leaves or baby spinach
1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Peel and chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Toss them in a bowl or right on the baking tray with 1 tablespoon coconut oil and thyme leaves, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer for 20-30 minutes, stirring at halftime, until soft and caramelized.
2. Meanwhile, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add spices, ginger, and chili if using, stir around for about a minute, until fragrant. Add onion and saute for about 7 minutes, until translucent.
2. Add rice, big pinch of salt and kaffir lime leaves, if using, stir to mix. Add 4 cups filtered water. Increase the heat, bring to a boil and decrease to a light simmer. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
3. Drain and rinse lentils and add them to the pot with rice with a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes. Test lentils for doneness, if you did not soak your lentils, they might need to be cooked a little longer, cover and simmer for another couple of minutes until lentils are cooked. Add roasted vegetables, coconut milk, zest and juice of lime and another pinch of salt. Stir to mix and let simmer for a couple of minutes for flavors to mingle.
4. Remove from heat and stir in spinach to wilt. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust as needed. Serve immediately with more lime juice squeezed over.