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For a bowl of winter comfort, lentils are the easy answer

By Joe Yonan

January 1, 2018 at 3:00 PM

Thai Red Curry With Lentils and Tofu; see recipe, below. (Jennifer Chase/For the Washington Post)

Related: [Make the recipe: Thai Red Curry With Lentils and Tofu]

That's when lentils are my savior. They cook so quickly (even without soaking), and I can simmer them until tender for use in salads, pasta dishes, tacos and the like.

Or I can do what feels most right this time of year and toss them into soups and stews. My latest inspiration for the latter approach comes from America's Test Kitchen's book "Nutritious Delicious." It's a Thai-style red curry, but with much less coconut milk (and therefore, less fat), a combination of black lentils and tofu for protein, and barely cooked red bell peppers and snow peas for crunch.

Every ingredient plays its part, but the lentils are the backbone, dependable as ever.

Scale, print and rate the recipe in our Recipe Finder:

Thai Red Curry With Lentils and Tofu

Adapted from "Nutritious Delicious: Turbocharge Your Favorite Recipes with 50 Everyday Superfoods," by the editors of America's Test Kitchen (2017).


14 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into ½ -inch pieces

½ teaspoon salt, or more as needed

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste, such as Thai Kitchen brand

2½ cups water

1 tablespoon white or red miso

1 cup black lentils (may substitute French green lentils or brown or regular green lentils)

½ cup canned coconut milk

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into ¼ -inch strips

4 ounces snow peas (strings removed), halved lengthwise

½ cup lightly packed chopped basil

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 scallions, trimmed and cut crosswise into thin slices


Spread the tofu on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and let it drain for at least 20 minutes. Gently press dry with paper towels and season with the salt and pepper.

Pour the oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the water, miso and lentils, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a gentle boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender and about two-thirds of the liquid has been absorbed, 30 to 35 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk. Add the tofu, bell pepper and snow peas, and increase the heat to ­medium-high. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is warmed through and the vegetables are crisp-tender, 2 minutes.

Turn off the heat, stir in the basil and lime juice. Taste, and add more salt, as needed. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve.

Nutrition | Per serving (based on 6): 170 calories, 9 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 450 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

Recipe tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to

More lentil recipes from Food:

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 2: Golden Lentils With Soft, Sweet Onions photographed in Washington, DC. Tableware from Crate and Barrel. Photo by Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post) (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

Golden Lentils With Soft, Sweet Onions

WASHINGTON, DC - Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Lentil Salad photographed in Washington, DC. (Photo by Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post). (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Lentil Salad

Apricot and Red Lentil Soup

Weeknight Vegetarian archive

Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Washington Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Food section's Weeknight Vegetarian column.

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