Make a Little, Buy a Little: Collards with Lentils, Tomatoes and Indian Spices

August 31, 2011

Last week, we made an elegant seafood pasta using mostly ingredients found in the pantry, and we're revisiting that idea again this week, but from a different angle. The thing is, sardines packed in olive oil aren't everyone's cup of tea (we know, duh). But, we're firm believers that just about everyone likes flavorful food. Enter your other dry storage: the spice cabinet.

If you've ever blackened fish, baked a pumpkin pie, or made a pot of chili, you know the importance of spice mixes -- those combinations that not only convey the origins of a recipe (ancestral or geographical) but also form a distinct flavor profile that can be used in creative, new ways. For example, garam masala, a pungent blend of spices typically used in Indian cuisine, adds a warm, smoky flavor to the Indian-inspired recipe below, but it also plays well with chocolate, coconut, and zucchini in EatPlayLove's Delightfully Spiced Zucchini Bread.

Garam masala blends vary widely, so experiment with different combinations of spices and make your own mix, or use a store-bought version. The Whole Pantry™ brand garam masala contains black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and coriander. Whatever you decide, stored in an airtight container, you'll have a practical and versatile spice blend at your fingertips -- perfect for adding a little pizzazz to a pantry meal.

This week: A meal of Collards with Lentils, Tomatoes and Indian Spices comes to a close with juicy, ripe plums from the Produce department.

collards tomatoes lentils indian spices jody horton
Photo by Jody Horton

MAKE: Collards with Lentils, Tomatoes and Indian Spices

Serves 4

1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes (can substitute 1 pound fresh)
1 bunch collard greens, thick stems removed and leaves sliced into 1-inch-thick ribbons
1 cup red lentils

  1. Bring 1/2 cup water to a simmer in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Stir in garam masala and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and their juices with 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in collards. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine lentils and 2 cups water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 8 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir lentils into skillet with collards and serve.

BUY: Garam masala spice blend from the Grocery department and fresh plums from the Produce department

Discussion: Do you make your own spice mixes? If so, do you start with whole spices or ground? What spice mix could you not live without (your own creation or store-bought)? Share your answers in the comments section below!

Like this post? See the Make a Little, Buy a Little post from last week: Linguine with Sardines, Fennel & Tomato.

1 Comments Add a Comment
  • Miglore

    kristen miglore says: This looks like one of those meals that makes you feel healthier and stronger (and smarter) when you're done.

    over 2 years ago Reply to this »

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