Most days of the week I come home from work feeling like this:
The last thing I want to do is cook dinner, but I am frugal and stubborn and won’t order take out if I know I have things that I can cook at home.
So I think, “Ok, vegan protein… let’s do some beans… ok carbs… let’s do some quinoa… and then I’ll want some color so let’s do kale.” BUT If I’m feeling exhausted, the idea of making some grain…. and then making some beans….and then sauteeing some vegetables…. and then having to clean up all that is just so overwhelming.
Basically, I’m tired, I’m lazy, but I want to cook a dish that is satisfying, has enough protein and carbs to keep me powered for my marathon training, and requires minimal equipment and cleanup. Look’s like I’m making a One-Pot Vegan Meal!
The base of a one-pot vegan meal is simple: grain + bean + vegetable. This particular one-pot vegan meal consists of quinoa, lentils, and kale. According to the nutritional labels on the bulk bins, a cup of cooked quinoa is 220 calories, has 4 grams of fat and 8 grams of protein. A cup of cooked lentils is 230 calories and has ~1 gram of fat and 18 grams of protein. And people worry about vegans eating enough protein, yeesh!
A meal of quinoa, lentils, and kale is also high in iron, something that vegans tend to have trouble with. 1 cup of quinoa has 2.8mg of iron and 1 cups of lentils has 6.6mg! So this one-pot meal of quinoa, lentils, and kale is high in protein, high in iron, and takes just 25 minutes to make. What’s not to love?!
Important cooking ratios:
- Approximately 1 cup of dried quinoa will make 3 cups cooked.
- Approximately 1 cup of dry lentils will make 2 – 2 1/2 cups cooked.
- For water, 1 cup of quinoa needs 2 cups of water. It’s the same ratio for dry lentils.
Think about how much quinoa-lentil mixture you want to have, and plan accordingly. In the recipe below I use 1/2 cup of dry quinoa and 1/2 cup of dry green lentils. It came out to 2 1/2 cups total.
Alright, enough talking, more telling you how to make this one-pot vegan meal masterpiece.
First, measure out 1/2 cup of dry lentils and 1/2 cup of dry quinoa. I am obsessed with the bulk section at grocery stores because can get dry grains/beans for SUPER cheap! That’s where I go for my supplies.
Add 2 cups of water (1 cup is for the 1/2 c quinoa, 1 cup is for the lentils). Pro tip: Since the quinoa and lentils both are a 2:1 water ratio, just fill whatever measuring cup you used to measure out the quinoa two times. Same for the lentils. It’ll cut down even more on the dishes you have to do. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.
Simmer for 15 minutes. There won’t be much liquid at this point. Add in 1/4 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of pepper, and any other seasonings you want (I prefer cumin!) and then add in your greens. Cover and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes.
The steam will wilt the greens. After 5 minutes, remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. This will allow the quinoa and lentils to fully cooked without overcooking them. Then you can either remove the greens and keep them separate, or stir them into the mixture.
Ta-da! Seriously, that’s it. 25 minutes and boom, a healthy protein-packed and iron-rich meal. If you are feeling extra fancy, you can cook up some tempeh or tofu on the side, but that requires a pan and extra effort… 🙂