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.