Slow Cooker Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry

Although I couldn’t have predicted it, coming home from our trip to Notre Dame to find leftovers of this Slow Cooker Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry stowed safely in our freezer was a perfect ending to a weekend of dear friends, soulful cheering, cool brews, and tasty food—all comforts of the best kind.

Slow Cooker Cauliflower Curry with red lentils. Healthy, comforting and so easy to make! #slowcooker #crockpot #vegan

Ben and I put 400 miles on our Honda and headed back to campus for the season’s opening football game. The wonderful and terrible thing about graduating from Notre Dame (aside from the fact that half of the country hates your football team at any given moment) is that my friends from college live all over the country. The positive is that whether I’m traveling Cape Cod, Hawaii, San Diego, Philadelphia, or New York City, I can almost always find a college pal to meet up with (or to stay with in exchange for a batch of healthy blueberry muffins). The downside is, I often see these friends less than once a year.

Home football games serve as mini-reunions, and I was incredibly blessed by the fact that so many of my friends returned to campus for last Saturday’s game. It was a night game, which gave us plenty of time to catch up during a full day of tailgating, though as we hugged goodbye to head to our separate seats, it didn’t feel like nearly long enough.

I’m slowly making new friends here in Milwaukee, but being able to spend a day with people I’ve known for more than 10 years, who love me despite being intimately acquainted with my weaknesses, who’ve seen me at my highest and lowest points, and who already know that I talk way too loudly in public and can be a little too enthusiastic (and huggy) after a brew or two, did my heart a world of good that I didn’t realize I’d been missing. Time with dear friends, it seems, is one of life’s greatest comforts of all.

Slow Cooker Cauliflower Curry with Red Lentils. One of the easiest, best crock pot recipes! #vegan #glutenfree

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry with Cauliflower. An easy, healthy and vegan crock pot recipe!

Now that I’m back home in Milwaukee, it’s reassuring to know that our dinner table remains a place of regularity and comfort of its own. This Slow Cooker Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry offers the richness and warmth that I crave in my comfort food. Unlike typical comfort-food recipes, however, it’s healthy, so instead of feeling weighed down after a big serving, I feel soothed and satisfied.

Slow Cooker Cauliflower Curry with Red Lentils. An easy healthy crock pot recipe!

The same sensation is true of the leftovers I enjoyed reheating for lunch—they left me full and happy, versus ready to slip into a food coma at my desk, which is what I suspect would happen if I devoured leftover lasagna or mashed potatoes and gravy at noon.

Like 99% of my slow cooker recipes, this cauliflower curry requires almost zero prep beyond a little chopping: simply mix the ingredients together in you crock pot, set it, and go. The sauce is a mixture of tomato puree, coconut milk, red curry paste, and aromatic curry spices. I also added an entire head of cauliflower, a classic vegetable often used in curries, because its mild taste can fully absorb the flavors of the sauce.

Slow Cooker Cauliflower Curry with Red Lentils

Though the red curry sauce and cauliflower are lovely, what makes this dish hearty and filling is Bob’s Red Mill red lentils. I am an enormous fan of Bob’s products because the company prioritizes their integrity, quality, and nutritional value, a focus I witnessed first hand when I visited Portland and met Bob himself.

If you are not familiar with red lentils, they are a mighty little legume that’s filled with fiber, and a single serving contains a whopping 13 grams of protein. Lentils also become incredibly creamy when cooked, making them an ideal ingredient for comforting dishes like this cauliflower curry.

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry with Cauliflower

This recipe for Slow Cooker Cauliflower Curry makes a much larger portion than we needed for our household of two, but the leftovers save, freeze, and reheat magnificently, so I was more than happy to have extra.

Life update: Help me interview Bobby Flay! 

I’ll be interviewing celebrity chef Bobby Flay about his new cookbook Brunch at Bobby’s on Thursday morning (!). If you have any questions related to the book or his career you’d like me to ask, send them my way today or tomorrow (erin{at}wellplated{dot}com), and I’ll try to squeeze them into the interview.

I’ll be sharing about the interview on my Facebook page afterwards, so check there for the juicy details. If you’d like to make sure that you catch the post about the interview in your newsfeed (sometimes Facebook hides what I share), just “Like” Well Plated on Facebook, then on the Facebook page, click on the word “Following” and select “See First.” You can always change your page settings later, but this will ensure you see the Bobby post!

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Slow Cooker Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry

An easy and healthy slow cooker recipe for cauliflower curry with red lentils.

Yield: Serves 8

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 4-5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Red Lentils
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom*
  • 1 (29 ounce) can tomato puree (not tomato sauce)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (use full fat—it’s worth it)
  • Freshly chopped cilantro, for serving
  • Brown rice, cooked quinoa, farro, or similar for serving

Directions:

  1. Place the lentils in the bottom of a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Add the onions, garlic, cauliflower, ginger, curry paste, salt, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and cardamom, then stir to combine.
  2. Pour the tomato puree over the top of the cauliflower and lentils. Refill the tomato puree can halfway with water, then pour it over the top of the slow cooker ingredients so that they are covered with liquid. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours, until the lentils are soft.
  3. Just before serving, stir in the coconut milk. Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or farro, topped with fresh cilantro.

*The spices with an asterisk can be replaced with 1 1/2 teaspoons of garam masala, a spice blend that can be found in some grocery stores and specialty food or spice shops. If you can’t find garam masala, the spices I suggested in the recipe (which are more easily available), taste wonderful.

All images and text ©/Well Plated.

Slow Cooker Cauliflower Curry is my contribution to September’s Eat Seasonal recipe round up. Each month, a team of bloggers and myself share a seasonal produce guide and feature recipes that highlight the fruits and veggies that are in their prime for the month. Here’s what’s at the peak of its flavor (and joyfully its best price of the year) in Septemeber, along with a list of tasty recipes to inspire your seasonal cooking.

What's in Season in September

About Erin Clarke

I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, lover of bourbon, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN...

60 comments

  1. I basically want to eat anything with curry in the name for every meal of my life EVER.  It’s cozy , comforting and so healthy with that cauliflower and lentil goodness you got going! 
    Also, I’m glad to hear you got to see friends! I haven’t really met anyone where I’m living, and we moved here a moths ago. I understand how it gets so lonely! 
    P.s Pinned!

  2. You are interviewing Bobby Flay? What the what?! I don’t have any good questions but can’t wait to hear all about it!!!

  3. I’m ready for all things slow cooker–this looks and sounds delicious. I’m glad you were able to spend time with your friends. Isn’t it crazy/wonderful how you can just pick up where you left off? Old friends are the best friends. 

  4. Couple questions before I make this fabulous dish!  What brand of curry do you use?  I recently have been using Mae ploy and it’s just too spicy for my kids. Also, half my family are cauliflower haters and the other half lovers so…do you think I could leave all the other ingredient amounts the same and just roast the cauliflower on the side?

  5. I have some red lentils I need to use, and this recipe sounds like it would be perfect.  I love curries, and just had a wonderful Malaysian one that perfectly puts me in the mood for this one.

  6. There is nothing more than deliciously comforting than cauliflower and curry! I’ve been wanting to find more ways of eating lentils at home and this sounds perfect. Will be making this very soon! And Milwaukee is such a great city so happy to hear you’re enjoying it!

  7. I didn’t know you went to Notre Dame! So cool! I grew up in the South Bend area. Fighting Irish for life! :) Hope you had a great time. We don’t make it home enough since we moved to Minneapolis, but visiting is always a blast. And this cauliflower curry? Happiness in a bowl.

  8. This looks delicious! So healthy and full of protein :)

  9. Hooray for college football weekends! We were back in the Little Apple this weekend and had so much fun! Clearly, next time we leave town I need to have this Cauliflower Curry in our freezer. I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend!

  10. This is something worth trying!! and good luck interviewing Bobby and have fun, I really like him!  

  11. I like how you just snuck in “oh yeah I’m interviewing Bobby Flay” at the end there. HOLY COW! That’s amazing. I’d probably be terrified because I’m a lame-o sometimes. Can’t wait to hear all about it! Sounds like a great weekend back at your old stomping grounds! I’m getting ready to embrace slow cooker season, and this curry is perfect!

  12. I’ve totally been craving warmer comfort foods. I’ll have no problem embracing fall with this recipe! I also LOVE lentils. Pinned!

  13. Love love love red lentils. And we got cilantro in our CSA box this week. Say hi to Bobby for me.  A long time ago he came to my kitchen and we taped a Food Network show about desserts.  We went to the same culinary school in NYC! Ask him what his favorite dessert is now!

  14. Love red lentils and this is a great way to serve them. 

  15. I love a slow cooker recipe that you can chop and dump…so easy! Looks delicious. And oh my goodness, you’re interviewing Bobby Flay?! How cool is that!?

  16. I love cauliflower curry, and serving it with red lentils sounds like the perfect comfort food after a long road trip!  And interviewing Bobby Flay sounds beyond exciting!

  17. I need more recipes like this in my life!  I love a good curry and I’m not a big fan of most slow cooker recipes but this one looks perfect!!  

  18. Thanks for posting this recipe.  I made it yesterday and I could not stop eating it.  Thankfully, it’s a large amount that I can eat off this week.  The spices are great and red curry paste with the other ingredients…SO good!  

  19. Made this for lunch today, and it was delicious.  My husband’s take on it was that “it’s weird, but not bad”.  He spent most of his life eating straight, boring American food, so this was a bit of a stretch for his taste buds.  I’m happy if he doesn’t complain!  I served it over wheat berries, and with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on top.  I couldn’t taste the coconut milk at all, which was disappointing.  Next time I would put about half the cayenne in, and maybe a little more coconut milk.  It’s possible I didn’t stir the coconut milk in well enough to the portion I ate.  Even though the list of ingredients seems long, this was very easy to put together, which was nice.  Really glad I tried it.

  20. I’ve been on the hunt for new crock pot recipes and this sounds perfect!  I’ve had a bag of cauliflower from the summer farmers market in the freezer forever, this will be a great recipe to use it up!  Thanks so much!

  21. Erin, Can you use curry powder instead of paste? If so what would the measurement be? I ask because I am trying to make this recipe salt/sodium free and I read that curry paste has salt in it. 

  22. Hi Erin. Just wondering – do you soak the lentils or prepare them in any way before putting them in the slow cooker? I followed the recipe to the letter over the weekend, but my lentils were still crunchy after 10 hours.

  23. Thanks, for this recipe, am looking forward to prepare it to my friends!  But the tomatoes puree, it’s seem quite a lot, is it 800 g cause am not very sure wht 29 ounces supposed to be? 

  24. I found your recipe this weekend and cooked it for this week’s lunches. It turned out great! The only modification I made was mixing in some kale into the brown rice before I put the curry on top. So tasty! Thanks for a great slow cooker recipe. I’ll definitely be back to your site to browse more great recipes.

  25. I live in Canada, and I can’t seem to find tomato purree? in any store. Should I use cans of tomato sauce or jars of strained tomatoes or tomato paste ( plus water)? 

    Thank you for any advice!

  26. Followed the recipe exactly as stated,  but after 6 hours on low and another 2 on high, the lentils were still rock hard. I know it’s not the slowcooker, as it works for other recipes. What did I do wrong?

  27. I love lentils and curry too, but was so disappointed in this one.  All I tasted was tomato puree, even after adding another scoop of red curry paste. It was a little overpowering. I think some modifications to the “sauce” and this one will be great.  Love all the veg and lentils, and served it over red quinoa. 

  28. Thanks for sharing your recipe — it sounds delicious. One question: Can you freeze it with the coconut milk already incorporated?  

  29. I made this recipe tonight. It’s very tasty and turned out just as described. I did add more water than the recipe called for to make sure it was covered to the top of the ingredients. I’m glad I found this blog today and looking forward to trying more recipes. Thank you!

  30. Is it possible to add chicken to this? Would you use chicken breasts or legs and thighs? Thanks!

    • Hi Jessica! I haven’t tried the recipe this way, but I think you could add either—just watch the cooking time, as it may need to be adjusted. I personally prefer boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the slow cooker, because they stay more moist. Use your best judgement, and if you decide to experiment with the recipe, I’d love to hear how it comes out!

  31. Can I sub tomato paste and add more water? I don’t have any purée…..

    • Hi Sandra! To be honest, I don’t know that this is the best idea. The consistency of the tomato paste mixed with water would still end up being quite a bit thinner than tomato purée, so I think that you would end up with a soupier final dish. Definitely use your best judgment though, and if you decide to experiment, I would love to hear how it turns out!

  32. Christine sullivan Reply

    I accidentally put the coconut milk in the beginning. Will this make a huge difference in flavor?  

  33. Thank you for the recipe! Can’t wait to try it!

  34. I’m going to make this recipe tonight for dinner since it sounds delicious. You have garlic listed twice, is that correct? Just wanted to make sure. thanks for your inspiring recipes!

    • Hi Marie, there should be 2 cloves of garlic, minced, in the recipe. I’ll double check to make sure it’s listed correctly. I hope you enjoy the curry! Thank you for your kind words about my recipes. :)

  35. Hi Erin, I’m sorry but I made a mistake, I thought I read garlic twice but I was wrong. Well I made the curry and it was fantastic! The right amount of everything, I will definite make again. Thanks!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the curry, Marie! Thank you so much for trying it out and taking the time to report back!

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