Nourishing Kale and Lentil Bowl with Pickled Carrots and Thai Almond Sauce - tender lentils, fresh kale, crunchy and briny pickled carrots, crisp apple, and creamy avocado topped with a delectable Thai almond sauce. Perfect for meal prep!
Now let me step back a second just to say, this lentil bowl is definitely not what you'd call authentic Thai cuisine. But I like to take my creative liberty in cooking, and this bomb sauce has key Thai flavors. It’s similar to a peanut sauce, but the almond butter takes it to a new level.
You’ve got all the flavor profiles in this Thai bowl: sweet (apple), briny/sour (pickled carrots), savory (lentils cooked in broth), salty (pickled carrots and sauce) and umami (almond sauce).
This kale bowl is vegan, gluten-free and is a great source of plant-based protein and fiber.
Plus it’s just so tasty. Actually, I think I’m going to go make some right now. BRB.
Quick pickled carrots
Carrots - the fastest way to shred your carrots is using a food processor with the shredding blade. But you can also use a mandoline, julienne tool, box grater or even just a knife.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) - it contains healthy probiotic bacteria which can promote a healthy gut. Make sure to look for ACV that’s unpasteurized and contains “the mother” for the most benefits. Don’t worry about those floating things, just give it a good shake and you won’t even notice them.
Salt and sugar - salt and sugar are key to pickling and though I don’t often use regular white sugar, you do need a little for quick pickling.
Lentils - I’ve used brown and green lentils in this lentil bowl, but french or black lentils will also work. You want to make sure not to cook the lentils too much or they’ll get mushy.
Stock/broth - technically you could use water, but cooking lentils in broth or stock really adds nice flavor. Please don’t skip the stock.
Kale - We’re going to use both the leaves and stems in this bowl. We’ll saute the stems to make them tender and use the leaves raw. I like to use lacinato kale here because it’s more tender than other kale varieties. I always recommend massaging the kale to make it even more tender.
Onion - yellow or sweet onions work best, but a shallot can also work.
Apple - the apple gives this bowl a touch of sweetness. I like to use honeycrisp because they’re crisp and sweet, but you can use your favorite variety of apple - though I recommend the sweeter varieties (i.e. not granny smith).
Avocado - it adds a delicious freshness and creaminess to this bowl. Look for avocados that yield to gentle pressure and aren’t mushy. If you can only find hard ones, leave them out on the counter by bananas or apples and it will soften up pretty quickly. Then store them in the fridge.
Thai Almond Sauce
Almond butter - I like to make mine at home using just almonds and my food processor. If you’re buying it, just make sure the only ingredient is almonds and maybe a little salt.
Soy sauce - you can also use coconut aminos, liquid aminos or tamari. They all taste like soy sauce. Be mindful of the sodium in soy sauce and look for a low sodium option.
Sesame oil - if you don’t have sesame oil, you can use olive oil or another neutral oil. Be sure to store your sesame oil in the fridge to keep it from quickly going bad.
Garlic - ideally use fresh garlic, but in a pinch jarred garlic will work.
Sriracha and chile garlic sauce - both give this sauce a kick. If spice isn’t your thing, reduce the amount or leave out the sriracha. I do recommend using at least some of the chile garlic sauce for flavor.
1 - Quick pickling carrots. Combine water, apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt in a medium pot. Bring it to a boil and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Put shredded carrots in a medium glass bowl, pour the pickling liquid over the carrots and stir so the carrots are completely covered. Let the mixture sit for an hour, or up to three weeks in the fridge.
2 - Cook lentils. Combine water or broth with the lentils. Make sure to rinse the lentils. Save yourself some dishes and use the same pot as the pickling liquid. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until they’re tender. Keep an eye on them though because you don’t want them to be overcooked and mushy. Drain and set them aside.
3 - Saute: Heat olive oil in a small skillet. Once the oil is shimmering, add the diced onion and kale stems and saute about 8-10 minutes. You want the onions to be translucent and the kale stems to be tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
4 - Massage the kale. Put the kale pieces in a large bowl, add a little oil (about 1 teaspoon) and massage the kale for about a minute. This will help make the leaves more tender.
5 - Prepare the Thai Almond Sauce: Combine sauce ingredients (almond butter, soy sauce, lemon juice, sesame oil, garlic, sriracha and garlic chile sauce) in a food processor. Blend until smooth, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
6 - Serve: Divide the lentils between four bowls. Add kale, sauteed onion/kale stem mixture, pickled carrots and apple. Top with Thai almond sauce and serve with sliced avocado. Enjoy!
💭 Tips, Tricks and Tools
Storage: Storing each component separately will help to keep things fresh for longer. Stored together, they will last only a day or two.
Prep the pickled carrots in advance to streamline things and for more flavorful pickled carrots.
Make your own almond butter with just almonds and a food processor or blender.
This Thai bowl is a balanced meal and contains protein (lentils, almond butter), fat (almond butter, oil, avocado), carbohydrates (lentils, apple, carrots), and fiber (carrots, lentils, apple, kale).
This bowl is a good source of vitamins A and K and it’s also high in fiber. It’s vegan, gluten-free and is a good source of plant-based protein.
🍽 More seasonal bowl recipes:
- Cauliflower Buddha Bowl with Crispy Chickpeas and Chard
- Black Bean Tofu Bowl
- Beet Halloumi Quinoa Bowl
- Zesty Italian Farro Bowl
Loved this vegan lentil bowl?
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Nourishing Lentil and Kale Bowl with Pickled Carrots and Thai Almond Sauce
Quick Pickled Carrots
- 2 carrots shredded
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup lentils rinsed
- 2 cups stock or broth
- 1 bunch kale (leaves and stems) stems chopped, leaves cut or ripped into medium pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion diced
- 1/2 apple diced
- avocado sliced
- Prepare pickled carrots: in a medium pot, heat water, apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt until simmering. Put carrots in a medium glass bowl, cover with the pickling liquid and let sit for an hour or longer.
- Cook lentils: Combine water/broth and lentils in a medium pot (I use the same pot that I used for the pickling liquid). Bring to a boil and let simmer for 30-35 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain and set lentils aside.
- Saute: Heat olive oil in a small skillet. Once the oil is shimmering, add onion and kale stems. Saute 8-10 minutes, or until the kale stems are tender. Set aside.
- Massage the kale. Put ripped up kale leaves in a large bowl, add a little oil (about 1 teaspoon) and massage the kale to make it more tender.
- Prepare sauce: Combine sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Serve: Divide lentils between four bowls. Add kale, sauteed vegetables, pickled carrots and apple. Top with Thai Almond Sauce and serve with sliced avocado. Enjoy!