Easy Basil Lentil Stir Fry is a dinner you can prepare in under 20 minutes. This dish is great for any weeknight meal. It’s made with basil, lentils, carrots, onions, and brown rice. The flavors of the fresh basil and lime juice make the dish taste delicious.
The trick to making this a quick meal is to already have the rice prepared in advance and the lentils precooked, or you can use canned lentils. Meal prepping is the key if you want to turn around quick meals at dinner time.
Tip on dinner inspiration:
Do you know where a great place to find recipe ideas? It’s in the free grocery store magazine. I found this recipe, Basil Beef Stir-fry and the photo looked yummy so I thought I would make a vegan plant based version for my family. Swapping out certain ingredients to crate a delicious vegan version. For this dish I was able to add in more whole food plant based ingredients.
The meat version of the recipe included oil, garlic, onion, carrots, brown rice, a fish sauce, basil, lime juice and ground beef. The recipe included 9 ingredients. Two of them were not vegan and omitting oil from a stir fry is easy.
So the challenge is figuring out how to replace the ground beef and fish sauce.
How to make a ground beef substitute using lentils?
I wanted to create a whole food plant based version so I decided to go with lentils. You could use tofu, tempeh, or even a vegan meat substitute like Gardein or Morning Star crumbles as a substitute for the stir fry. I had them on hand and thought they would work pretty well.
If you are short on time at dinner, you can make the lentils in advance which will make your life easier. To prepare the lentils use 1 cup of lentils in two cups of water. Add to a pot and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook at a low simmer for about 30-35 minutes until tender. You may need to add another cup of water if not tender enough. Drain any additional water when they are finished cooking. Set aside.
Next challenge was the fish sauce.
I don’t even know what fish sauce taste like. I assume it has a unami flavor which is a salty, sweet odd fishy flavor. I’m replacing that part of the recipe with tamari or you can use soy sauce. I’ve tried some vegan fish sauce recipe and they are just too salty for me. If you like, you can buy a vegan fish sauce and use it instead of the tamari.
Ingredients Basil Lentil Stir -Fry (no-oil)
- shredded carrots (matchstick) you can buy a bag precut carrots
- green lentils (dry beans or canned)
- brown rice
- bay leaves
- lime juice
How to make the dish:
Step 1: Prepare your brown rice and cook according to the package. To warm already cooked rice takes about 5 minutes. Add the the rice to a pan and a little bit of water and heat until warm. This take about 5 minutes to reheat on the stove.
Step 2: To a separate medium hot skillet/pan add the onions, garlic, and carrot and a little water to the pan. Sauté the vegetables and stir for about 5 minutes until the onions and garlic soften.
Step 3: To the skillet add in the lentils. Cook for 5-6 minutes and stir with spatula.
Step 4: Add in the tamari and stir.
Step 5: Remove from heat and stir in the basil and lime juice. Serve over rice.
A side note for this recipe:
You can easily substitute the lentils with vegan crumbles, or crumbled firm tofu, or even tempeh. You can also add in some frozen peas to the dish or top with some green scallions.
What I’ve discovered when using non vegan recipes is you can probably substitute the ingredients that don’t work for you. I am not saying that they will taste the exact same but that doesn’t mean they won’t be delicious in their own way. A little bit of creativity, some trial and error, and you can end up making something pretty amazing in a short amount of time.
P.S. If you make this recipe, leave a comment below, share your pictures on Instagram and tag me with @plantbasedfoodylife … I’d love to see what you make!!!
- 2 cup cooked green lentils dried beans or canned
- 1 tbsp minced garlic about 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1 cup onion diced
- 2 cup shredded carrots (matchstick)
- 3 tbsp tamari
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 3 cup cooked brown rice
- Prepare your brown rice and cook according to the package. To warm up cooked rice takes about 5 minutes. Add rice and little bit of water to a pan and heat until warm. This take about 5 minutes to reheat on the stove.
- To a seperate medium hot skillet/pan add the onions, garlic and carrot and a little water to the pan. Sauté the vegetables and stir for about 5 minutes until the onions and garlic soften.
- To the skillet add in the lentils. Cook for 5-6 minutes and stir with spatula.
- Add in the tamari and stir.
- Remove from heat and stir in the basil and lime juice. Serve over rice.