Smoky Tomato Lentils Cooked In Coconut Milk

By Amanda Paa – Updated May 1, 2022
4.75 from 8 votes
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I’m homesick.

We haven’t moved, but I’ve been on the move. To the tune of six times away from home in the last 5 weeks. I tend to tell myself, “You don’t have kids, so go and do as many things as you can.” I almost feel guilty if I pass up a great opportunity, because I have no excuse to miss it.

But I’m starting to see that ME is not an excuse, nor something I should be guilty about needing.

I mentioned on Instagram when I was flying back from Sacramento (partaking in the olive harvest) last week that I miss the act of baking most when I’m away. But in general, the kitchen altogether. The rituals, the comfort, standing at the stove, creating. It’s the thing that runs through my head as, “I can’t wait to get home to xxxxxxx.” For some that void might be to take a bath, a run around the neighborhood, or seeing family, but cooking is how I fill it.

When I got home, warm, hearty, home-cooked food was calling my name. I’d had some really delicious restaurant meals, and my fair share of airport salads and snacks. But as you probably can relate, I stood with eyes glossed over, looking inside the bare refrigerator. And the last thing I wanted to do was go grocery shopping.

So what I like to call pantry roulette began. I spotted an onion, lonely bag of green lentils, can of coconut milk, and a jar of organic Muir Glen Crushed Tomatoes (they grow arabellas, which are so bright and sweet!).

Initial thoughts went to something like a lentil risotto, using the coconut milk to simmer the lentils and onion, then add crushed tomatoes as the liquid cooked off to thicken. Flavor components? Smoked paprika, garlic, a little lime juice to brighten.

Smoky Tomato Lentils cooked in Coconut Milk {gluten-free, dairy-free}
Smoky Vegan Lentils {with crushed tomatoes and coconut milk}

These tomato lentils out to be just the plant-powered comfort I was craving. Creamy, earthy, sweet, savory ….. and a good reminder that I should be using smoked paprika more often.

It’s such a star in vegetarian cooking, bringing depth and umami that I would actually compare to a meatless bacon flavor

And it’s quite easy on the pocket books too, less than $6 for the entire meal that feeds 4 (or one, four times ;). That being said if you’re entertaining it can be made a day ahead, and reheats well with a little extra liquid added.

Smoky Tomato Lentils Cooked in Coconut Milk {vegan, cheap eats}
Smoky Tomato Lentils cooked in Coconut Milk {gluten-free, dairy-free}

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Smoky Tomato Lentils Cooked In Coconut Milk

Green lentils simmered with coconut milk and crushed tomatoes, the perfect pantry meal.
4.75 from 8 votes
Prep Time :5 minutes
Cook Time :1 hour
Total Time :1 hour 5 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Author: Amanda Paa



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt divided
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed organic Muir Glen Tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley


  • In a deep saucepan, about 10 or 12 inches wide, bring olive oil to medium high heat. Stir in onion 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook for 5 minutes until translucent. Add lentils and stir to coat and combine, cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add remaining salt, coconut milk, water, and garlic. Bring to a light simmer, then cover and cook for 45 minutes. Remove lid, add smoked paprika, 1/2 cup tomatoes, and bring to a boil.
  • Let simmer, stirring, with lid off, for 5 minutes, until it starts to thicken. Add remaining 1 cup tomatoes, and continuing simmer, cooking liquid off, another 15 minutes, or until lentils are soft and the dish has thickened to your liking. This level is your preference, cook longer if you'd like thicker.
  • Stir in lime juice and fresh parsley, serve warm.
Smoky Tomato Lentils Cooked in Coconut Milk {vegan, cheap eats}

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November 1, 2016


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  1. Rima

    5 stars
    This is my all time favorite recipe! Simple, nutritious ingredients that come together with minimal mess or stress. The best part is I usually have everything in my pantry and can make this whenever I am low on groceries. Delicious!

    • Amanda Paa

      It looked so delicious when you posted it on Instagram in your stories!

  2. Camille

    4 stars
    tried this but skipped out on the tomato because they didn’t appeal to me as I was cooking and I thought it was stellar. I went heavy on the smoke paprika and garlic and used coconut cream instead of milk. Would def make again!

  3. Adrienne

    Delicious! You’re right! The smoked paprika adds so much to the dish.

    • Amanda Paa

      Yay, so glad you liked the recipe! I love the oomph the smoked paprika adds, too.

  4. Karli

    Hi Amanda, this recipe looks great, I would love to try it. I currently have a tin of lentils in brine on hand, how can I adapt the recipe to use the tin of lentils in stead of dry lentils?

  5. Nicole B

    Just made this. It was easy and so good. Thank you!

    • amandapaa

      Yay, love hearing that Nicole!

  6. Stephani @ In Fine Fettle

    This recipe is so good! Smoky, savory and filling. I’ll definitely be adding it to my list of recipes to make again!

  7. Christine

    This recipe looks like a warm hug. Nourishment goes way beyond nutrition, I completely agree. I hope you’re feeling settled back at home and while travelling is always lovely, time at home is just as necessary :) xo

    • amandapaa

      Thanks Christine. I’m home for a few weeks in a row now, and really going to cherish it. I want to get together with friends, and just want to cook and cook. And get back to ritualistic things like Saturday morning waffles. All the love! xo

  8. Sherrie

    Thanks for reminding me last week to say no to things that I don’t need to do, trips I don’t need to take. Time for yourself is way more important so you can be a better person in other areas of your life. These lentils look and sound like a big bowl of comfort – a body hug! xx

  9. Aimee

    Wow this looks amazing

    • amandapaa

      thank you for stopping by Aimee!

  10. danielle

    being away from home is a definite ache, but the return is always so sweet. I love what you call pantry roulette – a little spontaneity and whimsy often go a LONG way. your result is beautiful. warm, with flavors I seek often. tomato and lentil seem so natural together.

  11. Liz @ Floating Kitchen

    I feel like every time I’ve watched your IG stories lately, you’ve been somewhere new. Good to travel and have so many opportunities, but sometimes best to be home. This dish looks super cozy. I want a bubble bath and this for dinner on this dreary November day.

  12. amandapaa

    I would probably benefit from going to the store as soon as I get home… but alas. I probably make it harder on myself! And yes, also jars of Muir Glen in my cupboard. The best!

  13. Ruby

    I completely know how you feel- I was basically uprooted for a whole year and I was just aching to bake and slow cook some comfort food day after day! It was the worst part of the homesickness.
    I think this lentil recipe could become a new staple for me. Can’t wait to give it a try :) xo

    • amandapaa

      I’m grateful to travel, and not complaining one bit! But there’s nothing like home. And nothing like cooking at your own stove. And nothing like sleeping in your own bed. All the love. xo

  14. Tori

    MMMMmmm, yes!!! This sounds delicious. I love simple, yet balanced meals like this!