Any of you have cans of pumpkin getting lonely in your pantry, from when you stocked up over the holidays? I do! I bet you do too. This recipe will come in handy for you. And, not only will it use up that can of pumpkin in a (likely welcome) non-dessert form, this dish is – as my friend Matt likes to say – it is one of my “all healthied up” recipes. Indeed, it’s pretty much chock full of high-fibre, low-fat, nutrient-dense plant-powered goodness!
About a month ago I was scurrying to make dinner (ok, I’m often scurrying to make dinner, but this one dish was created this particular night)! I wanted something soul-soothing, but with a kick. I was feeling like doing a more elaborate Indian curry, but really did not want to pull out my pantry stock of spices. Truly, curries made from scratch – with spices and aromatics like cumin seed, mustard seed, turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, ginger, and garlic – have the best and most authentic flavors. But, sometimes you just want to throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and be done with it!
This is your curry quick-fix! Yes, it uses generic curry powder, which doesn’t quite stand up to original curry blends. But, it works in a pinch. And, when your toddler might be pinching your butt while you’re cooking. You get the idea. Plus, the other additions in this lentil curry bring it to life – the addition of the pumpkin, apples, and a little hit of lemon juice. When you’re in a hurry, this is your curry.
Pumpkin Lentil Curry with Apples
This is a dish I made on the fly. When I literally had about an hour to get dinner together, had some rice in the fridge and wanted to pair it with a tasty, wholesome legume dish. It was a cold night, and the feeling of a warm curry was on my mind. This dish comes together in a snap, and gives you the chance to use up any cans of pumpkin hanging out in your pantry!
splash of water
1 – 1 1/4 cups chopped onions
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 – 1 1/2 tbsp mild curry powder (see note)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 cups dry (uncooked) green/brown lentils, rinsed
3/4 – 1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix! see note)
2 3/4 cups water (or more if desired)
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped apple
1 1/2 -2 tbsp lemon juice (optional, but perks up flavor nicely)
lemon wedges for serving
extra salt/pepper to season, if desired
In a large pot, add water, onions, salt, pepper, curry powder, and coriander over medium/medium-high heat. Cover and let cook for 4-5 minutes, removing cover to stir through once. If onions are sticking, add another splash of water. Add lentils, and stir through for a few minutes, then add pumpkin and water (starting with 2 3/4 cups, and reserving apple) and bay leaf. Increase heat up to high to bring up to a boil, then once at boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 30-35 minutes, or longer, until lentils become tender and water is absorbed. If they aren’t tender and the water is all absorbed, add a little extra water, about 1/4 cup (some batches may need more water), and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes or more. Once tender, add the apples, stir through and let cook for another 5 minutes, just to heat the apples through. If you’d like a moister curry, simply stir in a little extra water. Add lemon juice, stir through, and serve, with lemon wedges for individual portions (see serving suggestions). Season with extra salt/pepper to taste. Serves 4.
Curry Note: Curry powders can differ in heat and intensity. Most generic mild curry powders are not too spicy, so I find anywhere from 1-1 1/2 tbsps adds very good flavor without too much heat intensity. You can add less/more as you like, and knowing the brand of curry powder you have and use.
Pumpkin Note: I give a range for this recipe, simply because when I use a can of pumpkin myself, if I use the full 1 cup, I have about 3/4 cup left. I refrigerate or freeze that remaining 3/4 cup, and next time I make this dish, I use that amount! Or vice-versa… so, you can use whichever amount you like.
Serving suggestions: Serve with brown rice or another whole-grain, along with a chutney (mango chutney is nice), and/or whole-grain rotis (or whole-grain tortillas) and a big hearty fresh salad!