Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Baked French Lentils with Tomatoes and Kale

Late spring menus are among my favorites. The markets and stands are full of juicy"real" produce again and inspires a fresh perspective on what to bring to the table. How easy it is to fall into a rut of the same few dishes and ingredients, especially through the cold seasons. This cheery casserole adds some chutzpah to your ho-hum repertoire, while taking advantage of seasonal flavors and ingredients. Enjoy it with a little vino verdhe for a light and satisfying meal.

Dill, lacinato kale (aka as Tuscan kale and dinosaur kale), and early tomatoes brighten up these French lentils into a frugal, yet tasty meal that is perfect to pick from all week. Warm it and serve over rice, enjoy cold as a lentil salad, or serve it as a stew warmed with vegetable broth with crusty, grainy bread.

Greenmarket herbs!

kale chiffonade
Baked Tomato, Kale, and French Lentils
The raw materials

2 cups dry French lentils

4-6 cups water
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced carrots
2 T chopped garlic
1 large green bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch strips
1 bunch lacinato kale
1 cup fresh dill
3 cups chopped tomatoes
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 dry white wine
1 cup vegetable broth
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse and sort lentils, transfer to a pot, and fill with water and bay leaf.
Bring to a boil and cook until lentils are tender about 20 minutes.

In a large frying pan warm olive oil and add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat and add garlic and green pepper. Stir and cook for about five more minutes.

While it cooks, prep kale by washing it and cutting it into a medium shred, also known as a chiffonade. Add to pan and fold into mixture. Cook until kale is just wilted. Meanwhile, drain lentils and give them a quick rinse to remove any boiling scum. Set aside.

Roughly chop dill. Combine lentils, vegetable sauté mixture, dill and tomatoes.
Toss together and add lemon juice, wine, and broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into a 9 x 13 oven safe casserole dish cover tightly and bake it 350° for 35 minutes.

Serve as is with a little optional sharp, aged cheese or explore above suggestions for enjoying it as a salad or over grain.

Bon Appetit!

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