Middle Eastern Lentils with Spinach and Dukkah

VEGAN WITHOUT THE YOGURT GARNISH /// MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS

This is a thick pot of lentils seasoned with coriander seeds, cumin, and Aleppo pepper or chili. The lentils are cooked until just about softened, then lightly browned onions and spices are stirred in. In many ways it resembles an Indian dal; you can see how the cuisines of India and the Middle East have shared spices and techniques. The spinach will cook down when you add it to the lentils, so don’t worry if it seems like this is a large quantity to be adding. The mixture is, however, thick like dal.

Make the Stewed Lentils template with the following additional ingredients and specifications:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped Salt and freshly ground pepper 2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
Pinch of cayenne, or ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1 bunch spinach, stemmed, leaves washed in 2 changes of water, and roughly chopped

GARNISH:

Plain yogurt, drained yogurt, or garlic yogurt
Chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
Dukkah

  1. Follow the template recipe, but omit the Parmesan rind and the halved onions.
  2. While the lentils are simmering, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring, until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt, the minced garlic, coriander, cumin, and cayenne or Aleppo pepper. Continue to cook, stirring, for a minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Stir the onion mixture into the lentils. Add black pepper, taste, and adjust salt. Continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.
  4. Add the spinach, which should still have some water on it from washing. Cover and let the spinach steam and collapse into the lentils for a couple of minutes. Uncover, stir the spinach into the lentils, and cover again. Simmer until the spinach is wilted but still bright, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish each serving with a generous spoonful of yogurt, chopped cilantro or parsley, and dukkah.

ADVANCE PREPARATION: The lentils will keep in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. The mixture will thicken; thin out if desired with water.