God made dirt

And dirt don’t hurt. Further evidence that I have the taste buds of a five year old is my affection for food that tastes like dirt. Oh I suppose I’m supposed to call it ‘earthy’ but really, I just can’t can’t get enough of  mud.

Today’s case in point: lentils. I love lentils. Green lentils, brown lentils, red, brown and purple (well, I’m sure I would). Last week I finally tried out a pasta dish I’d bookmarked ages ago, which seemed a perfect fit for my dirt-loving ways. It was great, made good leftovers and I”ll definitely make it again. But not on a school night – it’s not speedy cuisine, especially if you start with bacon, as I did, in my clever adaptation. The original recipe is vegetarian, but where’s the fun in that?

Pasta with lentils and kale
adapted from epicurious

  • 1/2 cup French (small) green lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 pound cavolo nero (black kale), or other variety
  • 3/4 pound dried short pasta

Simmer lentils in water (2 cups) with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart saucepan, uncovered, adding more water if necessary to keep lentils barely covered, until tender but not falling apart, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt.

While lentils simmer, cook the bacon until crisp in a heavy skille. Transfer to a plate, and put aside.

Add the olive oil and onions to the skillet and slowly caramelize them.

While onion cooks, cut out and discard stems and center ribs from kale. Cook kale in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer kale with tongs to a colander to drain, pressing lightly. Keep pot of water at a boil, covered.

Coarsely chop kale and add to onion along with lentils (including lentil-cooking liquid), then simmer, stirring, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Add pasta to kale-cooking liquid and boil, uncovered, until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup pasta-cooking liquid, then drain pasta in a colander. Add pasta to lentil mixture along with a little pasta-cooking liquid if necessary to keep pasta moist and cook over high heat, tossing, 1 minute. Stir in the cooked bacon, season with salt and pepper, and maybe a little parmesan if you feel like it.

-Eve

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