Cozy. Hearty. Warming. Filling. These are the words that immediately come to mind after eating this Simple Spinach Butternut Squash and Daal. Anyone, and I mean anyone can make this daal recipe. It’s so simple, affordable, and makes amazing leftovers for the week ahead. Here’s why this is now on my batch cooking menu every weekend this fall! #helloantioxidants.
Some nights, you just don’t want to cook. Trust me, I’m just like you and go through the same thing- the struggle is real. I’m very picky about take-out food and don’t get it often, but when I do, one of my favorite take out places here in Nashville is an Indian restaurant called Woodlands Cafe off West End…it’s the bomb. I know what I’m ordering is healthy, homemade, and tastes delicious. BUT like with all take-out I’d rather keep it as minimal as possible and remake my own at home to keep it more affordable without sacrificing any of the authentic taste. My schedule keeps feeling busier and busier as I go along into the fall season, making meal time and every single thing I put into my body that more precious. I stopped by to grab some of my favorite daal and rice as take-out, came home, and thought to myself- what am I doing? I can totally make a HUGE batch of this on Sunday and have it for the entire week…for about 1/4 of the price.
We all go through those times where our schedules are crazy, you’re bouncing from meeting to meeting, class to class, running around with the kids or running errands- it’s all the same. And guess what? These are the times where we have to be über intentional and purposeful about squeezing as many nutrients, antioxidants, healthy fats, proteins, and anti-inflammatory compounds as possible to keep our immune systems strong, metabolism revved, and hormones happy! If that’s not motivation enough to cook your meals ahead of time, then I don’t know what will! THIS recipe is a lifesaver for those nights where you just want to open up the fridge and reheat a meal, I promise it tastes like you just cooked for hours every time you reheat it.
What is daal? First off, it’s pronounced like DHOLL, also it’s spelled in many ways including dal, dhal, daal, and dahl. Daal is a delicious traditional dish from India and enjoyed in many other countries around the world, for good reason, it’s high in fiber, protein, tastes delicious and is a vehicle for my favorite anti-inflammatory spice TURMERIC. I think you know how coo-coo I am for turmeric as evidenced by: Turmeric Milk, Turmeric Tea, Turmeric Milkshake, Turmeric Porridge…okay, I’ll stop there. Turmeric is a major component in yellow daal specifically, combined with other Indian spices like mustard, cumin, coriander, red chili, garlic…all the amazing spices. Besides turmerics involvement in daal, it’s really all about lentils or some other type of split legume that’s cooked down with spices, aromatics, and served vegetarian with garnishes like fresh herbs, diced red onion, lime, and Chapati bread (which I’ll make a recipe for this soon!).
Guess what, this is just 1 type of daal I’m making a spin-off from; there are SO many daal categories. Here are a couple more you can try at home too:
- Yellow daal- what I would categorize this recipe as
- Green Gram: made with mung beans
- Black daal (urad dal): made with black bean varieties
- Bengal Gram: made with chickpeas
- Masoor Dal: made with red lentils
- Toor dal: made with pigeon peas or green peas
Here’s a list of other legumes/pulses you can use when making daal:
- Mung beans
- Green split peas
- Pigeon peas
- Red lentils
- Yellow lentils
- Brown lentils
- Black lentils (urad)
- Aduzki beans
- Black beans
- Black-eyed peas
Lentils are one of the Top 10 Plant-based Proteins You Should Be Eating, for good reason. They’re affordable, easy to cook with, versatile, delicious, and packed with minerals, fiber, and protein.
Daal is delicious to eat alone, I typically will just scoop a couple heaping serving spoons into a bowl, garnish it with mushrooms, fresh herbs, and call it a day. On the chance that I have some grains cooked ahead from my Batch Cooking day like quinoa, rice, or millet, I’ll scoop the daal on top. Both ways are delicious! You can also boost the protein, which I always talk about and it’s very easy with this one- try adding your favorite organic tofu, tempeh, or grilled fish and shrimp on top, it’s sublime and incredibly filling for a meal.
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 cup diced butternut squash
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- 1 inch ginger, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 fresh red chilli
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4 cups raw spinach
- OPTIONAL, yet I highly recommend
- 1 handful of fresh curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- Rinse lentils well using a mesh strainer.
- In a medium-hot skillet, saute chopped onions and garlic in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add rinsed lentils, ginger, turmeric, sea salt, cumin seeds, and red chili. Add optional mustard and curry leaves here as well.
- Cover this mixture with about 1 inch of water and bring to a boil, continue adding water 1 cup at a time (or you may use vegetable stock) and stir occasionally until the water is absorbed and the lentils are cooked until soft and tender. Add in butternut squash after about 10 minutes. This whole cooking process will take up to 30 minutes. Once lentils are soft, add in raw spinach and cook down for another 5 minutes.
- To serve: serve on a bed of basmati rice, or Cauliflower Rice. Garnish with fresh lime, cilantro, parsley, extra red chili slices, and any proteins you enjoy.
Looking forward to seeing how you recreate this daal recipe and add in your favorite veggies. Let me know what you think when you give this recipe a go! Leave a comment and rate it. I love seeing what you come up with so don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #nutritionstripped on Instagram!