What’s For Dinner: Emergency Saag and Lentil Stew

I had a couple of bags of spinach from (local grocery store) that I had just bought a few days before. I thought I’d use some in a recipe, but mostly I looked forward to enjoying spinach salads for several days. Then I opened one of the bags and already the spinach was turning into a slimy, disgusting mess.

I salvaged most of both bags but there was no way either was going to be anything resembling fresh for another day. For what (local grocery store) charges for a bag, this Vegan On A Budget was rather annoyed. Cursing, I looked around my kitchen. I soon spotted the jar of brown lentils. I poured one cup into my sieve and rinsed them thoroughly before tossing them in the Instant Pot with water.

After the lentils were finished and the pressure dissipated from the pot, I emptied them into a bowl and cleaned out the inside pot. Because I spotted two other things on the counter: brown basmati rice and a can of coconut milk.

COCONUT BROWN RICE, BABY!

I went ahead and used the regular rice-to-liquid ratio to make the rice in the Instant Pot (1:1.25), which left me with some coconut milk for…whatever the hell it was I was about to cook with the spinach.

While the rice was cooking, I took another look in the fridge to see what else I needed to use up. I pulled out the rest of a sweet onion and the spinach. I grabbed a can of diced tomatoes and a couple of garlic cloves. I cut the onion into thin slices, rather than a coarse chop. While the onion and garlic were sauteeing, I decided on the seasoning. I used about a tablespoon of curry powder, some cumin seeds (and some powder), and about a tablespoon of Better Than Bullion.

After several minutes I poured the can of tomatoes into the onion/garlic/spice mixture and added just a bit more water to the can to use if the stew got too thick. I added in the lentils and let those cook for a bit while I washed the spinach. I added the spinach in handfuls, letting it get good and wilted before adding more. The Instant Pot beeped, signaling that the cooking time was over, just as I added the last of the spinach. I turned the heat down to low, covered the pot, and let the stew simmer while the Instant Pot depressurized.

When I finally heard the button drop on the Instant Pot, I added the last of the can of coconut milk to the stew, plus just a little extra salt to taste. I decided that I needed a little more milk, so I used some of the unflavored coconut creamer I have in the fridge (it’s too thin for my coffee, but works well in chai tea and, it turns out, spinach-lentil stews).

coconut brown rice

First of all, coconut brown rice: OMG I can’t believe I haven’t made this before! It is so delicious and will definitely be a regular menu item around here.

As for the Emergency Saag and Lentils, well, I devoured two bowls of it and immediately came here to the computer to write this post, so I would remember how I made it in the future.

Pretty damn good, considering I was close to having to toss almost two full bags of spinach. I’ve had an issue buying bagged spinach and lettuce at this store in that it never seems to keep. I’ll go back to buying it at (the other local store), since their’s keeps much better.

spinach lentil stew
The final dish. So much YUM!

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