Green Lentils With Spinach and Chipotle

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: This flavor-packed lentil dish uses a combination of Indian and Mexican spices, and the result is a particularly complex sort of comfort food. Serve with rice or flatbread. The cooked and drained lentils can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Adapted from "Indian Harvest: Classic and Contemporary Vegetarian Dishes," by Vikas Khanna.

• 1 c. green lentils, sorted and rinsed

1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt, plus more as needed, divided

• 2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 large red onion (about 12 oz.), cut into 1-in. dice

• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

• 1 whole star anise

• 3 whole cardamom pods

1 large tomato (8 to 10 oz. ), cored and chopped

• 1 tsp. ground chipotle chili pepper

• 8 oz. fresh spinach leaves, coarsely chopped

Directions

Combine the lentils, 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low so the liquid is barely bubbling; cook, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain them.

Pour the oil into a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, star anise and cardamom pods; cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is fragrant and the onion begins to brown lightly around the edges, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the tomato and chipotle; reduce the heat to medium-low; cook, stirring, until the tomato breaks down and forms a sauce, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the drained lentils and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are heated through and the flavors meld, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook briefly, just until it wilts. Taste, and add salt as needed. Serve hot.

Nutrition information per 1/6 serving:

Calories 170 Fat 5 g Sodium 620 mg Saturated fat 1 g

Carbohydrates 23 g Calcium 68 mg

Protein 10 g Cholesterol 7 mg Dietary fiber 7 g

Diabetic exchanges: 1½ bread/starch, 1 lean meat, ½ fat.