I’ve been feeling heavily uninspired in the kitchen lately. We’ve been eating a lot of pasta, a lot of Marcella Hazan’s 3 ingredient tomato sauce on top of said pasta, a lot of bread-based meals and boring grains. Whether it’s the grey cast days we’ve been having lately or the general lack of colour in the stores, I’m bored. I want more sun, more vegetables, more flavour.
These lentils are inspired by a beautiful bowl I happened upon on Pinch of Yum. That humble bowl of lentils spoke to my gut, alluring with it’s promise of creamy pulses licked with fruity oil and fragrant thyme. The simplicity wasn’t the inspiration I thought would stir me but the heart wants what the heart wants.
This is my version of a creamy pot of lentils, made with what was on hand and what felt right for my tastes. The caramelized onion and fennel provides a rich sweetness to the broth while the coconut milk is just enough fat for it to coat your mouth with flavour. Serve with grainy bread that’s been drizzled with oil and charred lightly to fill this meal out even more.
Creamy Coconut Lentils with Caramelized Onion and Fennel
serves 4 as a main
1/4 cup olive oil, butter or mixture of the two
salt and pepper
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 bulb fennel, sliced thin
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/8 (pinch) tsp cinnamon
pinch red pepper flakes
5-6 cups veggie or chicken stock
2 cups brown lentils
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 can coconut milk
2 cups chopped curly or lacinato kale
olive oil, for serving
toasted grainy bread, optional for serving
Warm olive oil over medium heat and add the sliced onion and fennel. Let cook stirring only occasionally but keeping an eye so they don’t burn, until deep golden brown and sweet, approximately 20-25 minutes. Add in the diced carrot, celery and red pepper flakes and cook until starting to soften, 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle in the ginger, coriander and cinnamon and stir so the spices coat the vegetables. Pour in the stock, lentils, thyme and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 35-45 minutes. Lentils should be cooked through and still hold their shape without being mushy. Add in the chopped kale and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Serve with fresh thyme leaves, a drizzle of oil, lots of fresh ground pepper and red pepper flakes if you like it extra spicy. Serve with charred grainy bread on the side.