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Use Your Kale in This Slow-Cooking Lentil Dish

I still have plenty of kale growing in the backyard, so I’m always on the lookout for new ideas of what to do with it.

Lentils with Kale and Shallots

Lentils with Kale and Shallots

This recipe, from Jody Williams’ “Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food” (Bookish, $30), fit the bill. It combined kale with another favorite, lentils, plus a healthy dose of garlic, chile peppers and sweet shallots. It didn’t require a lot of work, but it did need time to cook.

As Williams writes, “This hearty lentil dish is all about patience and slow cooking. You want the kale to really cook to the point where it just about loses its physical integrity and all of its freshness is dissolved into the lentils. The effect becomes rich and comforting. And while this is completely vegetarian, I am not. Really, I am just opportunistic and I believe in the freedom of what works well. Which is to say, this would be great with bacon!”

That led me to use pork stock instead of water.  I also used a good glug of olive oil on the top, so it may appear brothy — a no-no, according to Williams, who runs Buvette restaurants in New York and Paris — it is simply rich and delicious. If you do a vegetarian version, this could be a main course for two or three people. It would make a great meal with a simple salad and some rustic bread.

Lentils with Kale and Shallots

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and diced
5 garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
2 dried red chiles or 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 bunch kale, finely chopped
1 cup dark lentils
Coarse salt
4 cups water
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Crème Fraiche, for serving
Some really high quality extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Heat the ¼ cup olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, chile, and kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils, a healthy pinch of salt and the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the lentils and kale are not just cooked through, but really soft and lovely, a good hour, maybe even two; it will depend on the age and type of lentil you choose. Splash the mixture with additional water as it cooks, if it is threatening to dry out; you want the final product to be moist, but not at all brothy. Just before serving, stir in the nutmeg and season the mixture with salt.

Serve hot or at room temperature with generous spoonfuls of cold crème fraiche and a healthy drizzle of the raw, high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food” by Jody Williams

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