Red lentil, potato, and spinach dal with roasted tempeh and Brussels sprouts

A warm, rich dal with some added color and flavor.


For the dal
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable stock
2 medium yellow potatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
2T vegetable ghee (or coconut or avocado oil, but not olive)
1/2t of coarse sea salt
1t dried cumin seeds
1/2t dried coriander seeds
1/2t dried mustard seeds
1t dried ground turmeric (or to taste)
3 scallions, minced (reserve about 6″ – 8″ of green for garnish)
2T fresh garlic, minced
1t fresh ginger, grated
1/2t red Thai chili (or green chili, 1/4t cayenne pepper, and so on)
1/4 cup tomato passata (or tomato puree)
A dash of liquid smoke
2 cups loose baby spinach greens
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the tempeh and sprouts
1/4t coarse sea salt
2 cups vegetable stock
A sprig of kombu (about 2″)
250g pasteurized tempeh
1 cup Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1/4 cup tamari (or to taste)
2T cooking oil, divided
1/2T fresh garlic, minced
1/2t fresh ginger, minced
1T lemon juice
1T coconut sugar
2T nutritional yeast
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: 1T minced cilantro for garnish, 1t dried curry leaves, 1/4t hing (if you can get them, add them with the other dried spices), 2T coconut milk (added with the passata) if you have 2T that you can spare.


First start the tempeh, then start the dal. In a small pan with a lid, bring the stock, kombu and sea salt to a light boil. Add the tempeh, cover, reduce to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Toward the 30 minute mark, start the dal. In a large pan with a lid, bring the water to a light simmer. Add the lentils. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

At the 20 minute mark, add the stock and return the pan to a simmer on medium. Add the potatoes. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for another 20 – 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender and the lentils have mostly dissolved.

Toward the 40 minute mark, preheat the oven for 400F. Remove the tempeh from the stock and set aside to cool. Cut the tempeth into 3/4″ to 1″ cubes. Whisk the tamari, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, sugar and nutritional yeast with 1/2 cup of the stock until consistent. Cut the sprouts in half, length-wise. Toss the tempeh and the sprouts in the mixture until well coated.

Add the tempeh to a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes on the middle rack. Spoon half of the marinade over the tempeh. Add the sprouts after 10 minutes. Spoon 1/4 cup marinade over the sprouts.

Bake on the middle rack until the tempeh and sprouts are a nice golden brown. Turn the sprouts and tempeh at least once, and add the remainder of the marinade at that point. The sprouts should be soft but not overcooked. Ovens vary; use the colour and texture of the tempeh and sprouts as your guide.

When the potatoes, lentils, tempeh and sprouts are all ready, bring the oil or ghee and sea salt to heat on high in a small frying pan. You can use already ground spices, but the flavor is never the same as freshly ground, and ensuring a correct balance means doing the conversion by weight.

If you have experience popping spices on the stove top, add the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds to the oil until they pop. Otherwise, grind the cumin, coriander, and mustard until powdered in a spice grinder.

Add the dry spices and saute for 1 minute or until they are nicely aromatic. Add the curry leaves and hing if you’ll be using them. Add the scallions, garlic, ginger, and chili and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the dash of liquid smoke. Add the passata and deglaze the pan. Saute for another 3 minutes and remove from heat. Add the coconut milk if you’ll be using it.

Add the spice mixture to the dal. Stir to combine. Let stand 5 minutes for the flavours to mingle and the dal to cool. Add the baby spinach greens. Stir to combine. Let stand a minute for the greens to wilt. Season to taste and dish out the dal in a wide, narrow bowl.

For a dish like this, I’ll usually concentrate some of the potatoes in the center to add additional garnish on top. Season to taste and add the tempeh and sprouts in a loose stack in the middle (or however you prefer for the presentation). Garnish with the scallion greens sliced on an angle and cilantro if you’ll be using it.

Black lentil mezzaluna in a sesame white sauce with oyster mushrooms and kale

Similar to pierogi, mezzaluna are a lovely and decorative pasta, filled here with a lightly spicy combination of black beluga lentils, poblano peppers and Brussels sprouts, served in and a rich sauce of white miso, sesame seed butter and oyster mushrooms. This makes an appetizer portion for 4 or large plate for 2.


For the filling
1/4 cups black lentils
2/3 cups water
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu (about 1/2″)
1T cooking oil
1/4t coarse sea salt
1 scallion, minced (3″ – 4″ green reserved for garnish)
1/4 cup poblano pepper, chopped finely
2 Brussels sprouts (about 1/4 cup scant), minced (or green cabbage)
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste
For the dough
1 cup semolina flour
A pinch sea salt
1/3 cup water
1t olive oil
2 liters water and 2t coarse sea salt for boiling
For the sauce
1T cooking oil
1/4t coarse sea salt
1/2t dried basil, rubbed
1/4t dried oregano, rubbed
1T fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup oyster mushroom, wiped and finely chopped
1/2T lemon juice
1 cup unsweetened plant milk
1T sesame seed butter (I use a fairly traded brand)
1 cup green curly kale, finely chopped
1T arrowroot flour dissolved in 1T cold water
1/2T white miso
2T nutritional yeast
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: Replace the Brussel sprouts with sun-dried tomatoes for something slightly more flavourful.


Start the filling first, then the pasta, then the sauce. In a small pan with a lid, bring the water to a boil. Add the lentils. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the lentils are tender. When the lentils are done, remove the kombu, rinse the lentils and set aside.

While the lentils simmer, make the pasta dough. Mix the flour and salt. Mix the water and oil. Mix the wet and the dry. The dough may seem too dry initially. Keep mixing, and then knead until as a smooth elastic dough forms, and then another 2-3 minutes. Cover with a warm wet tea towel and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes.

When the lentils are ready, in a medium frying pan, bring the oil to eat on medium high. Add the cooking oil and sea salt. Add the scallion. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the pepper and Brussels sprouts and saute for 5 minutes. Add the lentils and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Set aside covered to cool.

Roll out the dough on a floured board in a large rectangle about 1/10″ thin. Cut small circles about 2 1/2″ round. Bunch up leftover dough, roll out and cut. Repeat until all of the dough has been used. Aim for 16 circles.

When the dough has been cut, add a heaping tablespoon of filling to each in an oblong shape in the middle. Carefully pinch closed, starting with the top, one side, and then the other. Squeeze out any excess air. Crimp both sides of the seam with a fork. Let sit to dry lightly while you make the sauce.

In a large pan with a lid, bring the cooking oil and sea salt to heat with the sea salt on medium high. Add the green herbs and saute for 1 minute. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the oyster mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and deglaze the pan. Add the soy milk. Bring the pan to a light simmer. Add the sesame seed butter and stir to dissolve. Simmer lightly, stirring occasionally while you finish the pasta.

In a large pot, bring the 2 liters water to a boil with the sea salt. Add the mezzaluna carefully to the water and boil lightly until they float (should be 3-5 minutes). They’ll float when done. Don’t overcook. Drain them carefully in a colander, reserving 2T of the pasta water. Rinse the pasta gently with cool water.

Add the pasta water and the kale to the sauce and stir to combine. Simmer another 2 minutes. Stirring continuously, add the arrowroot mixture until it thickens. Remove from heat. Add the white miso and stir until dissolved. Rinse the mezzaluna with hot water, drain and add them to the sauce. Stir gently to coat. Let stand 2-3 minutes to cool. Season to taste.

When lightly cooled, plate the mezzaluna and pour sauce over them. Add the scallion greens sliced on an angle. Dust with nutritional yeast, and serve.