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November 2, 2010

Vegan MoFo #2: Palak Delicata and Red Lentil Dal

Thanks for your enthusiastic comments on my first Vegan MoFo post -- both kabocha squash and pumpkin biscuits are definitely worth getting excited about!

I wanted to take a moment to welcome any new readers, be sure to say hello and leave a link to your blog if you have one. I am taking full advantage of Vegan MoFo to update the list of blogs in my reader. It is just two days into the Vegan Month of Food and I am already bursting with inspiration. Keep those amazing posts coming! 

For dinner tonight I was in the mood for some Indian food. I had in mind to whip up some Aloo Palak (potato spinach curry), but as I reached for the bag of potatoes on the counter the pile of delicata squash grabbed my eye (and yes, I keep piles of delicata squash around). I thought, why not swap in some roasted delicata for the potatoes? And Palak Delicata was born. Sure, it isn't traditional, but it is delicious! I imagine about any roasted winter squash would do well here (except for that oddball, spaghetti squash), but I favor the edible skin varieties. Sub the potatoes back in if you are in the mood for Aloo Palak.

I served the Palak Delicata with a side of long grain brown basmati rice and a variation of Lindsay's Red Lentil Dal (my adaptation below). I loved this meal and plan to put both of these dishes into regular rotation.

Palak Delicata
Serves 2-3

1 lb delicata squash, ends trimmed, seeds removed, and chopped into 1.5" chunks
10 - 12 oz fresh baby spinach (or frozen, thawed and drained)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, finely diced
1 tsp cumin seeds (or 1/2 tsp ground cumin)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup fresh or canned diced tomatoes, with juice
Salt to taste

Garnish: Toasted delicata seeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425. Toss squash pieces with a small amount of oil and salt, and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until fork tender, stirring halfway through. Set aside.

Rinse and drain the fresh baby spinach. Heat a large dry skillet over medium heat, and dump in the lightly wet spinach leaves. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until wilted and bright green. Pour the spinach into a colander and set aside to drain and cool. (If you are using frozen spinach skip this step, you need only thaw and drain as much liquid out as possible).

Heat 1 tbsp of oil or 1/4 cup water in the same skillet. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes, until translucent. Stir in the garlic, ginger, jalapeno pepper, and cumin seeds and saute for 3 minutes more. Add in the rest of the spices, stir well, and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and let simmer for 5 minutes.

While your tomatoes are simmering, return to your spinach. It should be cool enough to handle, pick it up in both hands and give it a few good squeezes to drain out a bit more of the water. Pulse the drained spinach in the food processor until well chopped (but not pureed).

Add the spinach and roasted squash to the skillet, and stir to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes, until heated through. Season with salt, and garnish with toasted squash seeds if desired.

Red Lentil Dal
(adapted from Happy Herbivore)
Serves 4

1/2 cup red lentils
2 cups vegetable stock
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1-1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1-1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup diced fresh or canned tomatoes, with juice
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp garam masala
Handful chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)

In a medium pot, saute onions, garlic, and ginger in 1/4 cup water until translucent. Add spices, except garam masala, and cook for 2 minutes, adding more water if necessary to prevent sticking. Add lentils, stock, tomato paste, tomatoes, and coriander. Cover and turn heat to high. Once boiling, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until lentils are cooked. Add garam masala and cilantro or parsley, stir to combine. Let stand for 3-5 minutes before serving. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Thanks for these awesome looking dishes/recipes! I have not really made any Indian foods yet, have some sort of fear that they're difficult.

  2. Yum! What a delicious twist on traditional Indian!

  3. Oh my that squash looks so good. I'm also so boring with my squash baking, this needs to change.

  4. so i'll be home over xmas, any chance you'll be cooking a yummy vegan dinner that i can come sample? ;)

  5. Heather -- don't be scared! It is usually quite easy once you've measured out all of the spices ;)

    Jacky -- for you, darling? of course! I hear a certain Meg will be in town too, Christmas dinner party/reunion must happen!

  6. Wow everything looks delicious. Thank you so much for sharing the recipes.

    I hope you are having a good Wednesday,

  7. oooooh, yummmmy! dan and i haven't made indian yummies in a looooong, loooooong time - and your palak delicata & red lentil dahl have be craving them and feeling inspired to make some for dan and i to enjoy super soon. did you say you keep piles of delicata squash around?! that's so awesome. really, really awesome. delicatas are my favorite of all the squashes - i don't know why i don't have piles of them around. i need to get on it! happy MoFo'n to you, Sarah - and i'm looking forward to all the awesome you'll be posting about!

  8. I love the images of piles of delicata sitting around. ;)

    That looks delicious - thanks for sharing!

  9. Yum, love Indian food! Thank you for the recipes!

  10. Oh man, I was planning on making Dal this week...I think this will be the one I make! Lovely pictures too :)

  11. That Dal looks great! Thanks for the recipes.

  12. I keep piles of delicata around as well. That's a totally sane thing to do.

    Why have i never thought to infuse winter squash into potato-based indian dishes? Sounds quite genius. Love this dish.

    I'm so glad you liked the pot pie! The pics look fantastic!

  13. This meal looks PERFECT to me! I have to try this one!!!!

  14. Ooh, I love all the colors! The more colorful a dish, the better!

  15. This look so good--looking at your pictures and reading through the recipe is making me go into Indian food withdrawal!


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