“I thought we’d try something healthy for dinner tonight.” These are not the words you want to hear from your camping companion – especially after a long, active day of burning calories. For me, the word healthy conjures up memories of flavorless grain bowls and bitter piles of kale. The food of masochists. So when Megan told me our meal would contain both lentils and kale, I immediately started taking mental account of how many Cliff bars we had left. I figured I would need at least two or three to properly supplement.
However, I’m happy to say that not a single Cliff bar was needed because this meal is legit. Not only is it Hungry Camper™ approved, but it also uses just one pot (which is always a good sign). The recipe really brings out the best in both the lentils and the kale. Red lentils break down when cooked and become more of a creamy porridge and the kale looses nearly all of its bitterness when simmered. But the real stars of the meal aren’t the main ingredients. It’s the coconut milk, coriander, and cumin that gives this stew such a full and satisfying flavor profile. We prepared a lot for just the two of us, but had no problem finishing it. If we had had a loaf of crusty bread on hand, the pot would have been cleaned and ready to go by the time we got done with it.
Coconut Red Lentil Stew with Kale
This recipe uses coconut milk powder, which can be found in Asian grocery stores, most supermarkets, or online. This is a great ingredient to have on hand for camping because you can use as much or as little as you’d like, and the leftovers will keep until you need them again, unlike canned coconut milk which needs to be used or refrigerated after opening.
Over medium heat, saute shallot in olive oil until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic, cumin, coriander, and cayenne and saute 30 seconds, until fragrant.
Add the tomatoes and their juices, broth, coconut milk powder, red lentils, and salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Add the kale. Cook until the lentils begin to break apart and become creamy, about 20 minutes. Season to taste, and serve immediately. This would be great topped with some chopped cilantro or a squeeze of lime!