Last week, we asked readers to tell us what they’re cooking while sequestered at home to avoid spreading (or getting) the coronavirus. Brunswick resident Nancy Heiser, who just happens to be a former restaurant critic at the Maine Sunday Telegram, emailed to tell us about her recent adventures in the kitchen.

“One thing my husband and I are doing rather successfully so far, is cooking a good dinner with what we have on hand, or can get easily, and spending a longer time eating and enjoying. (News is off!). Two nights ago he made a double batch of chicken Marsala.

“Last night I made this, after doing an internet search for sweet potato recipes, as we had a lot of sweets on hand. And while we only had a scrap of kale, I substituted spinach in this one. Delicious, a meal in a bowl and very satisfying, as well as vegan. Everything else in our pantry.”

“I am lucky that I have a husband to share good food with,” Heiser added in a second email. “We are making a point of staying longer at the dinner table these days. Dinner has become our oasis, not just a meal to get through. We recently ordered home delivery of wine from our shuttered local story, Vessel and Vine, to help [owner] Nikaline [Iacono] out and because we are sipping a little more these days.”

“That, and long walks.”

Thank you, Nancy. Readers, what are you cooking? Please tell us about it.

Ginger Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Stew with Lentils & Kale is a handy, tasty use for any sweet potatoes you have hanging around. mama_mia/Shutterstock

Ginger Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Stew with Lentils & Kale 
This recipe comes from the blog thefirstmess.com.

Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
½ – 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ lbs (690 grams or 2 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
½ cup brown lentils, picked over
4 cups vegetable stock
1 (13.5 oz or 400 ml) can full-fat coconut milk
1 small bunch of kale, stems removed & leaves chopped (about 4 cups chopped and lightly packed)

GARNISH:
Chopped cilantro
Extra chili flakes
Lime wedges
Nigella seeds, optional

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the coconut oil to the pot and let it melt. Add the onions to the pot and stir. Saute the onions, stirring occasionally, until translucent and quite soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chili flakes, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Saute the spices until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ginger and garlic to the pot and cook for another minute. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Add the sweet potatoes to the pot and stir to coat in the spices. Add the lentils to the pot and stir once more. Season everything liberally with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable stock and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Place the lid on top of the pot and bring to a boil.

Once the stew is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and set the lid slightly askew on top of the pot so that the steam can escape. Simmer until the sweet potatoes are almost falling apart and the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. The liquid should also be reduced by almost a third.

Add the coconut milk and kale to the pot and stir. Cover, and continue to simmer the stew until the kale is wilted and bright green, 3-4 minutes. Bring the stew back up to a strong simmer and check for seasoning, adjusting with more salt, pepper, chili etc. if necessary.

Serve the stew hot and let eaters garnish however they like.


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