Okay okay okay. After today I will lay off the lentils for a while. However, given my love for the easiest, healthiest, veganist crock pot madras lentils I brought to you last week, it would be wrong of me not to share our other favorite way of enjoying them: madras lentil enchiladas.
At this point, I shouldn’t have to list out why I love these because look at that cheese, but I will..
Vegetarian game going strong
Lentils are packed with protein
Makes a lot
These can be made with fresh or frozen and thawed madras lentils, or the dish can be assembled, frozen and then cooked for a great freezer meal. We usually serve this with a side salad or just fresh avocado.
Madras Lentil Enchiladas
½ recipe madras lentils (approximately) – recipe here
10 fajita size flour tortillas
1 can enchilada sauce
1.5 cups shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese
Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce (just enough to cover the bottom).
Place a single tortilla on your work surface, top with a large spoonful of the lentils and a heaping tablespoon of cheese.
Roll the tortilla and place into the baking dish, seam side down.
Repeat this process with the remaining tortillas.
Once all of the tortillas are in the baking dish (it will be a tight fit), pour enchilada sauce over the dish so that every tortilla is covered (depending on the size enchilada sauce you buy, you won’t use it all).
Top with remaining cheese.
Cover and heat at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
If you want a slightly drier enchilada, remove the foil and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes.
* If you are using previously frozen lentils, thaw completely before loading tortillas.
** If you want to make this dish to freeze, follow steps 1-6, then cover tightly and store in a sealable freezer bag. Pull the dish out 24 hours prior to cooking and let thaw in the refrigerator. Then cook until heated through (may take longer than 30 minutes).
If Winter Vegan Goddess Bowls weren’t enough to get your crock pot out for my exceptionally easy/vegan madras lentils, then hopefully you’ll be convinced with either of the recipes I’m giving you this week. That’s right, I’ll be coming back in a few days with another recipe, so you don’t have to wait an entire week for the goods! Meet our new faves: madras lentil naanwiches and madras lentil enchiladas.
Both of these recipes are perfect for using either lentils fresh out of the crock pot, or that you’ve frozen for later use. While still vegetarian, we’re dropping the vegan label because cheese.
I honestly can’t decide which of these dishes is my favorite, so let’s start with the madras lentil naanwiches.
First off, isn’t it so fun to say “naanwich”? So clever, but I unfortunately cannot take credit for the play on words. However, I can take credit for filling it with yummy lentils, peppery arugula and creamy avocado. <– that’s it. Naan, lentils, arugula, avocado. Your naanwich is done in less than five minutes.
As I mentioned last week, I’m trying to cut back on the cheese after having way way too much of it over the holidays, but it would be wrong of me to not comment that heating the naan with provolone before filling it takes these naanwiches to a new level. #justsaying
These madras lentil naanwiches are perfect for meatless Monday (is anyone still doing that?), or a work from home day. I plan on having the ingredients on hand while I’m on maternity leave because they’re just so quick to make that it can even be done while taking care of a newborn.
It’s January, and we’ve all resolved to set off on a healthy 2017, right? We’re veggie prepping, cutting back on the cheese and sweets, and upping our plant and protein intake. That all sounds great, but we’re also in the coldest months and can’t a girl just have some comfort food? Enter these copycat madras lentils and one of my all-time favorites: the Winter Vegan Goddess Bowl. <– I know how obnoxious that sounds, but try it and tell me you don’t feel like a vegan goddess (or god because I can’t leave the guys out).
It wasn’t until we were about half way through the first Winter Vegan Goddess bowl that I realized I was eating vegan. This meal is so unassumingly vegan, that you literally do not miss the meat. How awesome is that? In a world where too many things are veggified (looking at you cauliflower “crust”), this is just great ingredients put together in a way that is so humble, yet so satisfying, and you just feel great after eating it.
You may be wondering about the “copycat madras lentils” part. Let me paint a picture for you. You’re walking through Costco, having had some delicious samples and getting towards the end and they’re dwindling. You see a sample for some sort of granola mix, and assume that’s the last of it. Then – oh hai – here’s one last hot station. It’s madras lentils and they are Y-U-M-M-Y. The microwave packs are perfect to have on hand for nights when there is no time to cook. 90 seconds for the lentils + 90 seconds for a bag of precooked rice, and dinner is done in less than five minutes. You really can’t beat it in a pinch.
Well, I decided to make a copycat version. It took several attempts to get just the right blend that we were going for, but I’m really happy with the outcome. There are several reasons I love these lentils:
Everything dumps in the crockpot and you’re done.
The leftovers freeze really really well.
You can use them for Winter Vegan Goddess Bowls (as shown here), enchiladas, quesadillas, naanwiches or just over plain ol’ white rice.
They’re accidentally vegan.
I generally have all of the ingredients on hand.
As you can assume, the madras lentils are the star of my Winter Vegan Goddess Bowl. The flavor is so warm and comforting, and the bulkiness of lentils really leaves you satisfied without feeling overly stuffed. The beauty of this type of bowl is that there are really no rules…rather guidelines.
Start with a base – this can be rice, quinoa, salad greens – you name it (we prefer using a bag of the precooked rice because (duh) less time and clean-up)
Add the lentils
Add veggies you’ve roasted before. Suggestions include, but are not limited to: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli. (Pictured here with sweet potatoes.)
Add sautéed greens. We use spinach, but kale has made many an appearance.
For my meatatarian frands: chicken, pork or shrimp would make great additions.
I see all of you thinking about all of these components, and imagining a major clean-up fest after dinner. I see you and I am you. This is not the case. Here’s the game plan – cook the lentils with a crockpot liner, have your veggies pre-roasted from the day(s) before, use a bag of pre-cooked rice. All that’s left is the pan to sauté the greens. That makes these Winter Vegan Goddess Bowls a one-dish dinner. You’re welcome.
1 lb dry lentils
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 shallot – small dice
4 cloves garlic – minced
4 cups vegetable broth (chicken broth also works, but then you’d lose the vegan label)
1.5 tbsp EACH – cumin, chili powder
2 tsp salt
Spray the inside of your crockpot with cooking spray (or for easier clean-up, line your crockpot with a cooking liner).
Add all ingredients and stir to combine.
Cook on low heat for 5-6 hours.
If you’re making a Winter Vegan Goddess Bowl, start with a grain base, then add the lentils, any roasted veggies you have and sautéed greens. A squirt of sriracha doesn’t hurt either!
Today I’m testing the limits of what you will or will not let me get away with putting in your face. In my mind veggie lasagna is *muah* but for some people lasagna with no meat is like pizza with no cheese….just let me speak my piece then decide. #1 I mean, just look at it…
#2 This veggie lasagna is a crockpot filled with soul-warming comfort food at its finest with the health factor bumped up like a hundred notches. I will admit some of the best lasagnas include a mix of ground beef and sausage, but I would rank this as being equally good. Unless you’re my husband (Andy, turn off the laser beams in your eyes)…he’s, ummm, a meatatarian and makes no bones about the fact that he will begrudgingly eat a meal if it does not include some sort of beef, chicken, seafood or pork. Don’t get me wrong. We do at least one meatless dinner a week, but when I try to slip a second one in there he preemptively gets hangry. However, he actually liked this…like really really liked it – win!
In the winter it’s so easy to get sucked into eating heavy comfort food because it’s so cold outside, and some days you literally feel like you’ll freeze to death if you don’t eat pot roast or stew. I generally get about half way through winter like this before realizing, wow, I’m good on the animal protein, but could really use like a TON of veggies right now. Enter this crockpot of noodley, veggie-filled love. We’ve got loads of kale, cubed butternut squash and mushrooms. Really, though, any veggies you have on hand can work here.
#3 You’ll leave feeling all the feels of having traditional lasagna, but with the glow that can only be achieved by eating all the veggies…and all for just under 450 calories for an enormous portion. I’ll be honest, if you have a meatatarian in your life, you could easily add a pound of cooked ground meat (I would use sausage here because it goes really well with kale), and just use about 1/2 – 2/3 of the veggies.
Let’s talk about preparation. This does take a minute to put together – hello, it’s lasagna. For me this is a weekend meal, or a dinner when I’m able to run home at lunch to put it together. The biggest thing I need to stress about this is that once the cooking time is done, you need to let it sit, covered, for about an hour before digging in. The extra hour of resting time really pulls everything together, and gives it the texture and hold-togetherness of lasagna. Once you’re done and this has been sitting for a while, you’ll be able to cut pieces like you would a traditional lasagna that’s been sitting, so you can go ahead and portion this out for your lunches for the week. I’ve never tried freezing this, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. If you do freeze it, let me know how it works out!
Serves 8-10 (447 calories per serving when divided into 8 portions or 358 calories for 10 portions)
2 (24 oz) jars marinara sauce (you’ll only use about 1.5 jars)
12 lasagna noodles (not the no boil kind)
24 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3-4 cups chopped kale (packed)
3 cups cubed butternut squash
8 oz sliced mushrooms
Optional: garlic powder, oregano and black pepper (or any spice combination you prefer)
Spray the crockpot with nonstick cooking spray, then add 1/2 cup of marinara sauce to the bottom.
Add 3 lasagna noodles to form a single layer, breaking the noodles to fit as needed.
Cover noodles with about a third of the ricotta then a third of each of the veggies.
Cover the veggies with 1/2 – 1 cup of marinara (depending on how saucy you like it), 1/2 cup of mozzarella and spices*.
Repeat steps 2-4 two more times then finish with one last layer of noodles, sauce and remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese on top.
Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5-6 hours. Once the cooking time is through, turn off the crockpot, leave the lid on and let it sit for an hour. This step is really important because it gives everything a chance to firm up a bit. It’ll be pretty runny if you don’t do this, which may or may not be an issue for you.
*Add any spices you like. I do garlic powder, oregano and black pepper. I don’t measure it, but I would say less than a 1/4 teaspoon of each per layer. Depending on the marinara sauce you may want to add a little salt as well, but mine already had plenty.