This recipe for Southwestern Lentils and Potatoes is fast, easy, and delicious. Made with 7 pantry-friendly ingredients and just 3 spices, this skillet dinner is made in ONE pan and will be on your table in no time at all. A quick vegan dinner that tastes THIS delicious? Let’s get cooking!
A true pantry-friendly recipe, this vegan lentil and potato dish includes easy-to-find and seriously cheap ingredients. It comes together quickly with items you probably already have at home but tastes like c-o-m-f-o-r-t in a bowl.
This easy vegan dinner recipe contains lentils and potatoes, of course, plus tempeh, diced tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices. That’s it!
The best part about this recipe? This Southwestern skillet is made in, you guessed it, one skillet.
Cleaning up after dinner is the worst part about making dinner, am I right? Accordingly, one-pot meals are THE BEST weeknight dinner option.
In a nutshell, this recipe is:
- Insanely good for you
- High in protein
- MADE IN ONE-POT!
About this Lentil and Potato “Stew”
The inspiration for this recipe is pretty straight-forward. Basically, I needed dinner on the table fast and threw a bunch of things I had laying around into a pan. Then I added some red lentils and water and waited to see what would happen. The result: a delicious, thick, and hearty one-pot dish.
After I made this for the third time in as many weeks, we were convinced that it had to be shared with you all! But first, I shared it with my mom to make sure she thought it worked as well as we did.
She loved it!
My mom was convinced that this recipe should be called “lentil and potato stew” though. The reasoning? It’s warm, comforting, and perfect as-is. No rice, grains, or toppings required.
While I agree with that glowing endorsement, I maintain that stew needs a bit more liquid to be considered a “stew”. 🙂
Either way, this recipe is DELICIOUS and we both agree, we wouldn’t change a thing about it.
About the Ingredients
Red Lentils: Lentils are protein superstars. Red lentils are super quick to make and break down completely when cooked. They give this dish its amazing, thick texture.
Sweet & White Potatoes: We’re using two kinds of potatoes here. Sweet potatoes are extraordinarily healthy and pack tons of vitamin A, while white potatoes make this feel like comfort food!
Tempeh: A fermented soy food that’s made with whole soybeans and only lightly processed, tempeh packs plenty of plant-based protein. (In fact, tempeh is less processed than tofu. Learn more about tempeh in this balsamic tempeh post.)
Peppers & Onions: A classic flavor combination, they contribute to the “Southwest” flavor.
Diced Tomatoes: A quick way to add a lot of flavor and umami to any dish, diced tomatoes work really well with red lentils and sweet potatoes (and just about everything).
Spices: We’re using just 3 spices to keep this meal easy and inexpensive. Garlic powder, a pantry-staple that will save us precious chopping time. Chili powder, a blend of spices so that the work is mostly done for us. 🙂 And finally, chipotle powder for smokiness and a little bit of heat. If you’re looking for some spice, add more chipotle powder a little at a time.
Chipotle Powder vs. Chili Powder
These two spices aren’t the same! Chili powder is a pre-mixed blend of spices that you can find at most grocery stores. Feel free to use your favorite brand!
Chipotle powder, on the other hand, is simply ground jalapeno peppers. No other spices included. 🙂
If you have to buy these spices for this recipe, don’t let them go to waste! You can repurpose them for this Instant Pot Bean Chili as well. It’s a recipe we make every other week because it’s just SO easy. Throw everything into your Instant Pot, walk away, then come back to a huge batch of chili you can eat all week long. 🙂
How to Make This Recipe
This recipe is a great one-pot meal. After you dice and cube your ingredients, the “hard” part is over and everything comes together SUPER quickly.
I like to use an extra-large stainless steel skillet to cook everything up. If you don’t have a large skillet with a lid, use a Dutch oven or a different pan of your choice instead. Be sure to avoid cast-iron, though, since it just doesn’t work well for oil-free cooking.
If you’ve never cooked with dried beans and pulses before, this is DEFINITELY the recipe for you! You’ll very quickly see that cooking lentils on the stove is perfect for easy, weeknight meals.
Here’s what you’ll do to make this stovetop dish:
- Cook your peppers and onions.
- Add your spices and allow to “toast”.
- Add all remaining ingredients.
- Bring to a soft boil, cover, and simmer.
- Enjoy! (Yes, that’s really it!)
How to Serve
This is a true meal in a bowl. Plant-based protein from the lentils and tempeh, fiber and FLAVOR from the peppers and onions, and satiating carbohydrates from the potatoes. It has everything you need and leads to a very happy belly! It’s a wonderful, well-balanced red lentil protein bowl as-is.
However, if you’d like to dress yours up, here are some ideas:
- Serve over rice, quinoa, or any other grain of choice
- Serve over a crunchy bed of romaine or your favorite cabbage slaw
- Top with fresh salsa, cherry tomatoes, green onions, guacamole, avocado, or cilantro
- Add additional beans, like black beans, to amp up the protein and Southwestern flair
- Serve alongside some baked tortilla chips or fresh corn tortillas
- Drizzle with hot sauce and/or vegan yogurt
- Squeeze a lime wedge on top!
How to Store
This is a great meal prep recipe! The sweet potatoes will soften up a bit, but the tempeh and white potatoes maintain their texture nicely. Best of all, you’ll have amazing yet HEALTHY comfort food ready at a moment’s notice.
Store in the fridge in air-tight containers for up to a week. (Pack any additional toppings on the side if you’d like to keep them crunchy throughout the week.) After storing, you may find a small amount of additional liquid in the containers. This is completely normal and simply a result of all the water-rich vegetables. Upon reheating, everything will thicken up again nicely.
Helpful Tools for This Recipe
- Stainless Steel Skillet with Lid
- Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Mesh Strainer
- Large Cutting Board
- Sharp Knife
- Food Storage Containers
- Coconut Bowls
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper (any color), diced
- 1 8-ounce block of tempeh, cubed (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- 1 large white potato, cubed (no need to peel)
- 1 medium sweet potato, cubed (no need to peel)
- 1 cup dried red lentils, picked over and sorted
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 3 and 3/4 cups water
- Optional toppings: cilantro, green onions, a squeeze of lime, hot sauce
- Rinse your lentils thoroughly under running water and set aside.
- Heat a large stainless steel skillet (or dutch oven) over medium heat and add a splash of water.
- Add your onions and peppers to the pan. Allow to cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften. If they begin to stick to the pan, add another small splash of water.
- Add your dry spices to the skillet and allow to toast for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the skillet. Stir well and scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan.
- Turn the heat up to high and allow the mixture to come to a gentle boil. Once lightly bubbling, stir, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
- When the timer is up, stir well and taste. Adjust seasonings to your preference, if necessary, and allow to sit for a few minutes in order to thicken up.
- Serve as-is or over a bed of rice, quinoa, or chopped romaine. You may also top your dish with any of the optional toppings listed above, if desired. Leftovers will keep for up to a week in the fridge, with no loss of flavor.
Pan Choice: Use a stainless steel pan for easy oil-free cooking and cleanup. If you don't have a large, deep skillet with a lid, you may want to use a Dutch oven instead.
Sorting Beans: All dried beans should be sorted and picked over before cooking. This just means laying them out on a surface and looking through them for stones, broken/misshapen beans, and anything that looks off.
Chili Powder: This is a pre-mixed blend of spices specifically meant for chili. Use your favorite.
Chipotle Powder: Use pure chipotle powder, which is simply smoked and ground jalapeno peppers (no other ingredients).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 342Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: .3gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 185mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 18gSugar: 7gProtein: 22g
Nutrition information is an estimate only, based on the recipe as written. Data was obtained through MyFitnessPal's recipe creator.
The Background & Science Behind These Ingredients
- A great overview of sweet potatoes and answers to some commonly asked questions.
- Sweet potatoes are “one of the healthiest foods on the entire planet” and we should be eating the skin for the most antioxidants possible!
- White potatoes are healthy too! They contain many important nutrients and, when prepared in ways that don’t add large amounts of fat/oil/butter, are quite healthy. Learn why “white potatoes prepared in a healthy way have an important role in a nutritious diet”.
- Tempeh is a whole soy food with many health benefits. If you’re wary of soy, please have a look at this tempeh overview and this post about soy’s benefits.
- Information about lentils, their hearty texture, and their protein content.
What do you think?
Thanks so much for stopping by! If you make this recipe, then please leave a comment and rating. I would love to hear what you think and how it worked out for you!
If you like the sound of one-pot dinners as much as I do, you will love this red lentil & cauliflower curry recipe! (The combination of red lentils and potatoes in both of these recipes is just perfect!) For more easy dinner ideas, please check out all of my main courses.