Vegan Tomato-Braised Lentils With Broccoli

It tastes approximately 82 times better than it looks. That's a fact.
It tastes approximately 82 times better than it looks. That’s a fact.

It took a year of not really being able to cook, in India, to make me realize that I actually love cooking. Why? First off, it’s relaxing. Mindful, you could say! What better way to work your way into a state of meditativeness than by chopping up an onion? (Or what better way to listen to all your podcasts, if we’re really being honest?)

Second though, it’s something I can do that produces near immediate results. None of this knitting business–I get to taste the actual fruits and vegetables of my labor within hours!

Anyway. Monday was productive for me. Not only did I manage to write three articles, I also went to the library, got groceries, and, yes, made dinner. Hurrah!

I’ve made this recipe before, so I knew what to watch out for: namely, crunchy lentils. I think the key is just to be patient and not take the 30-minute simmering time at face value. I also modified the recipe from its original TheKitchn form, subbing out the cream with coconut milk and opting for broccoli instead of broccoli rabe (hey, it’s what the grocery store had).

What resulted definitely did not disappoint. Check it out. You’re welcome.

Vegan Tomato-Braised Lentils With Broccoli
Adapted from TheKitchn


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion (or shallots), finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups lentils
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cups stock (chicken or vegetable), plus some extra if needed
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped tomato (I used canned)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk*
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook the onions over low heat for about 8 minutes until translucent, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Add the lentils, tomato paste and a cup of the stock. Increase heat to medium and stir occasionally until the stock has been absorbed. Continue adding stock and stirring occasionally until the lentils are just tender, 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam your broccoli and drain it. In a separate pan or skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the sliced garlic clove and the cooked broccoli. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the chopped tomato to the lentils and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and taste for seasoning when warm. Stir in the basil leaves, then serve immediately with the sauteed broccoli rabe on top.

*I would definitely try coconut cream next time, to replicate the heavy cream in the original recipe. Just a suggestion, though!

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