Red Lentil Dhal makes a brilliant 5-2 fast day diet meal solution. Low in calories, healthy and bursting with flavour it marries well with a wide variety of seasonal vegetables. It’s early summer here, so today I used green beans, vine-ripened cherry tomatoes and mint. In Autumn I like to add roasted sweet potatoes and pumpkin, and perhaps soft, buttery leek.
Delicious on its own and sufficiently satisfying served as is, to round out the meal for my family I added a side order of oven roasted chicken breast and warm naan. That’s precisely why I love about this particular fast day meal, its adaptability to feed five hungry diners, each with different needs. Remember, every 100g of roasted chicken breast (crispy skin removed) will add an additional 144 calories to the meal. With an average energy count of 311 calories per 100g of naan bread, or a whopping 134 calories per piece, it’s best avoided by 5-2 dieters on a fast day. Serve it at the table only if you know you have sufficient willpower to resist its allure.
Red Lentil Dahl With Roasted Vine-Ripened Cherry Tomatoes, Green Beans and Mint
Serves 4 (290 calories per serve)
1 cup red lentils (675 calories)
1 tablespoon olive oil (120 calories)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (44 calories)
1 long red chilli, finely chopped (18 calories)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated (6 calories)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (8 calories)
1 teaspoon turmeric (8 calories)
1 teaspoon garam masala (10 calories)
½ teaspoon chilli powder (4 calories)
½ teaspoon sweet paprika (3 calories)
½ teaspoon ground cumin (4 calories)
½ teaspoon ground coriander (3 calories)
2 cups (500ml) vegetable stock or water (40 calories)
thinly peeled rind of 1 lemon, peel only not bitter white pith
500g green beans, topped and tailed (155 calories)
250g vine ripened cherry tomatoes, roasted (45 calories)
¼ cup fresh mint, shredded (4 calories)
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon (12 calories)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
PLACE the lentils in a bowl and wash thoroughly until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
HEAT the oil in a heavy based pan or wok over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent.
ADD the chilli, ginger and garlic. Fry for a minute or so until fragrant.
ADD the turmeric, garam masala, chilli powder, paprika, cumin and coriander. Stir well to combine before adding the lentils, lemon peel and stock or water.
SIMMER, covered, over medium heat for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more stock or water, as required if the dhal becomes too thick. Remove from heat, discard lemon peel, and season to taste. Keep warm and set aside
MEANWHILE place the cherry tomatoes on a baking paper lined oven tray and roast in a hot 180C oven until just beginning to split, about 5-10 minutes depending on size. Remove from oven. Keep warm.
STEAM green beans over boiling water until tender, 3-4 minutes. Drain.
COMBINE in a medium bowl with shredded mint and freshly squeezed juice of one lemon. Season to taste.
DIVIDE the red lentil dhal evenly among four plates (about half a cup per serve), top with the green bean mixture and roasted tomatoes. Serve immediately.