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Siam Lentil Bowl with Thai Cashew Pesto

  • Author: Tessa
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Yield: 4 bowls 1x


Take out your Tupperware and get cooking! This bowl is perfect for making in a big batch, then taking with you for lunch on the go all week.



Thai cashew pesto (makes 3/4 cup)

  • 1 C packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 C packed basil leaves (Thai basil if available. I used regular basil.)
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/3 C roasted, unsalted cashews (see notes)
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 C olive oil

Everything else

  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 2 t agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 C + 2 T hottest tap water
  • 1 C split red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 C quinoa, any color, rinsed (I used a mix)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 C sliced almonds
  • 1 large bunch curly green kale, stems removed and chopped or sliced
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 2 t kosher salt (more to taste)
  • 2 limes – 1 juiced, 1 cut in wedges
  • 1 large carrot
  • If desired, extra cilantro


  1. Make the pickled onions. Place onion in a jar or other glass container with lid. Whisk vinegar, agave, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 cup hottest tap water until salt dissolves. Pour mixture over onions so they’re submerged (there should be enough liquid if your onion is small). Let rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 1 hour. Use, or transfer to the refrigerator. Drain after 24 hours in the fridge.
  2. Make the pesto. Combine all ingredients except oil in a food processor and process until finely chopped, scraping down the sides with a spatula once or twice. Add the oil all at once and process until it forms a sauce. Transfer to a bowl or jar and set aside (refrigerate if making ahead of time).
  3. Cook lentils and quinoa. Combine lentils in a medium saucepan with 2 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes (split lentils cook super fast!). Drain any excess water, then transfer to a mixing bowl. Rinse pan and cook quinoa in it, according to package instructions (or see my instructions here, using 3/4 cup water). Add quinoa and reserved bell pepper to bowl with lentils and set aside.
  4. Toast almonds. Add almonds to a large, dry skillet over medium heat. Stir occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes, until moderately browned. Remove to a dish to cool.
  5. Make kale. Heat coconut oil in the same large skillet over medium heat. Once melted and hot, add kale and a pinch of salt. Toss with tongs to coat with oil, then occasionally as kale sautés. When kale is almost completely wilted, squeeze juice of 1 lime into the pan and allow it to reduce completely. Divide kale between four bowls or containers.
  6. To the same skillet over medium low heat, add lentil mixture, 1/2 cup pesto, and 1 tablespoon water. Stir until combined and pesto coats everything, adding more water if pesto is forming clumps. Distribute equally amongst the bowls, on top of or next to the kale.
  7. Peel the carrot and cut into ribbons by running a vegetable peeler down the length of it (or slice thinly into rounds). Top each bowl with one fourth of carrot ribbons. Top bowls with a big forkful of pickled red onions, a tablespoon of slivered almonds, a lime wedge, and extra cilantro, if using. Serve immediately, or, to reheat later, remove lime and cilantro and microwave about a minute on high, then squeeze lime over the bowl, salt if needed, and top with cilantro.


The recipe is vegan and gluten free.

Cashews – To roast your own, bake on middle oven rack on a baking sheet at 350 (F) for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden. Remove to a towel to cool. If you want to use roasted, salted store bought cashews, just omit salt from the pesto recipe.

  • Prep Time: 40 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Entree
  • Cuisine: Thai