Red lentil curry with leeks and tofu (slow cooker)

Red lentil curry with leeks and tofu

This recipe is so simple, and so tasty. And to top it all off, it’s quite healthy – full of lean protein and veggies and fiber (lentils are a total superfood). As healthy as this dish is, however, it does not skimp on flavor (and as an unexpected bonus, it’s vegan!).

Red lentil curry with leeks and tofu

This recipe originally comes from a Weight Watchers slow cooker cookbook, which I made a couple of times before making some significant modifications. The original recipe calls for shrimp as the add-in at the end of the slow cooking process, which was pretty good, but not my favorite (I prefer shrimp that’s been grilled or stir-fried – plus, 2 pounds of shrimp can be really expensive if you’re not buying on sale), so I used tofu instead. I also increased the amount of garlic (because 1 clove is never enough).

Red lentil curry with leeks and tofu

Lastly, I replaced the celery in the recipe with leeks. Because you know what? Celery is stupid. It’s flavorless, it smells more like sterile cleaning liquid than food and while some will argue that it provides “texture” to soup and stews and the like, I find it annoying and useless. So, I used leeks instead, because leeks provide robustness without significantly changing the main flavor.

Red lentil curry with leeks and tofu, in the slow cooker
Adapted from Weight Watchers

2 1/2 cups veggie broth
1 cup dried red lentils
1 large red onion, chopped
2-3 leeks, thinly sliced and chopped
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon peanut, grapeseed or canola oil (any neutral oil)
16 oz. firm/extra firm tofu (firmer the better)

Add the broth, lentils, onion, leeks, ginger, garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper (first 10 ingredients) into your slow cooker. Stir together, cover, and cook on high for 2-3 hours (I let mine cook for the full 3 hours). I believe you can also cook the ingredients on low for 4-6 hours – the mixture is done when everything is soft and broken down.

When there’s about 45 minutes or so left on the timer, brown your tofu on the stove as preparation before adding to the slow cooker. Slice the tofu blocks into bite-sized pieces. Heat up some neutral oil (peanut, grapeseed, canola – just not olive, if you can help it) in a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and let it brown, stirring frequently after a couple of minutes so that all the pieces brown somewhat evenly (this took about 15 minutes for me, but cooking times may vary). Add the browned tofu to the slow cooker, stir, replace the lid, and continue cooking.

Serve in bowls and enjoy! The leftovers for this recipe keep quite well – in fact, they get a little spicier after sitting in the fridge, which is a nice bonus. I imagine you could also serve this dish over some grains (couscous or rice), but it works great on its own.

The final puzzle party . . . and the food that helped solve it

Unfinished puzzle

Jeffrey bought a puzzle last year. Actually, it’s not a puzzle. It is a giant beautiful beast of confusion and headache parading around in the form of a puzzle. It is Baffler #1000, also known as “The Test,” created by an artist known as Chris Yates.

We started throwing Puzzle Parties at my house after Jeffrey first bought the puzzle, since we knew it would be much more fun to have lots of people attacking the puzzle versus just one or two. (More like one – I wasn’t particularly helpful in the beginning after looking at the giant pile of 1200+ puzzle pieces with no easily discernible pattern staring back at me).

We held a total of five puzzle parties. The above photo is from Puzzle Party #4, where we almost (almost!) finished it. We threw the final Puzzle Party this past Saturday, where we finally finished “The Test” (and celebrated with champagne!) and enjoyed some tasty food along the way.

And so I present: the menu for Puzzle Party #5, THE FINAL!

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Roommate dinner night, January 2011 + Mom’s sangria

I live with three fabulous roommates on the edge of the Mission, near Potrero Hill. We decided that we don’t see enough of each other (we all have boyfriends and hobbies and other things that keep us out of the house), so it was time to schedule an all-hands-on-deck roomie dinner night. This month: Mexican themed.

Lisa made a bread-pudding-like dessert (I can’t remember the name, sadly), with mango and guava paste on top:

Roommate dinner night - Lisa's dessert

Kristen made empanadas, all from scratch, with a mushroom/seitan filling:

Roommate dinner night - Kristen's empanadas

Katherine made a veggie paella with quinoa instead of rice . . . of which I forgot to take a photo (sorry Katherine!).

And I made sangria, using my mother’s tried and true recipe.

Roommate dinner night - Mom's sangria

It was a great night, and everything was delicious. And bonus: everything was vegan! Next month: PIES. Yep.

Mom’s Sangria
(Serves 4-6 people)

2 bottles red wine (I used pinot noir after finding some on sale at Whole Foods)
1 cup fruit juice (orange, apple, grape, grapefruit, whatever you’d like – I used fresh grapefruit juice)
2/3 cup triple sec
2 oranges, cut into 8 pieces
1 lemon, cut into 8 pieces
1 lime, cut into 8 pieces
1-2 extra limes for garnish (optional)
Sugar (optional)

Pour all the liquids together into a big pitcher or pot. Add the sliced fruit. If you’re going to add sugar, add some now and stir it all together (I added a little less than 1/5 of a cup).

[Disclaimer: my mother never adds sugar to her sangria – I added some because I knew at least one of my roommates prefers a sweeter sangria. It’s great, either way.]

Refrigerate for as long as possible – around 8 hours is apparently ideal, although I only refrigerated last night’s batch for about 2-3 hours before serving.

If you’re using sugar, take a test sip (or two) to measure sweetness before serving. If it’s not sweet enough for your liking, add a little more sugar and stir around and test again.

If using, slice up the remaining limes and add to glasses.

Serve and enjoy!