Thai curries embrace a delicate balance of flavors, textures, temperatures, and colors to produce lively, satisfying meals. Though fresh tasting (thanks to potent herbs and aromatics), restaurant renditions can be high in saturated fat due to hefty amounts of coconut milk, especially when made with red meat.
We wanted to create a Thai-style red curry that wasn’t swimming in coconut milk and featured fiber-rich lentils and tofu instead. We started by cooking the lentils in an aromatic red curry broth.
When the lentils were tender but still slightly al dente and had absorbed most of the liquid, we incorporated a bit of coconut milk to create a rich, fragrant sauce.
To contrast the nutty earthiness of the lentils, we added vibrant red bell pepper slices, snow peas, and cubes of tofu at the very end, simply warming them through to maintain the vegetables’ color and crisp-fresh texture.
A generous handful of fresh basil and a sprinkle of scallions gave the dish a brisk, heady finish. Lentilles du Puy, also called French green lentils, are our first choice, but brown, black, or regular green lentils are fine, too (cooking times will vary). Do not use light coconut milk. You will need a 12-inch skillet with a tight-fitting lid.
THAI RED CURRY WITH LENTILS AND TOFU
Start to finish: 1 hour
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon expeller-pressed canola oil
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
2 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 cup French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch strips
4 ounces snow peas, strings removed and halved crosswise
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 scallions, sliced thin
Spread tofu on paper towel-lined baking sheet and let drain for 20 minutes. Gently press dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in water, fish sauce, and lentils and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender and about two-thirds of liquid has been absorbed, 30 to 35 minutes.
Stir in coconut milk until well combined. Add tofu, bell pepper, and snow peas, and increase heat to medium-high. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tofu is warmed through and vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
Off heat, stir in basil and lime juice. Season with salt to taste and sprinkle with scallions. Serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 375 calories; 142 calories from fat; 16 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 1269 mg sodium; 38 g carbohydrate; 11 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 23 g protein.
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