This is one of my favorite recipes and a staple in my household. I have mentioned the benefits of kale before, and now is the time of year I start to see it in the farmer’s markets once again.
Here is the original recipe. It is one of the few recipes I find online or in books that is perfect the way it is; the only slight adaptation I make is to double the lentils to make it a heartier vegetarian meal. It is so full of flavor in spite of the fact that it is seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper. There is a lot going on at once in this recipe, so here it is illustrated with photos.
Bring a cup of lentils to a simmer in about 4 cups of water and a dash of salt. Let cook for about 20 minutes, adding more water as necessary. It is okay to have excess water. At the same time, set up another large pot of salted water to be used for the kale and pasta and bring to a boil.
While the lentils cook, caramelize the onions: saute 1 finely diced onion in olive oil over moderately high heat for about 1 minute, stirring continuously. Reduce heat, cover, and let saute for about 20 minutes, stirring every few moments.
They should look soft and golden when this part is done:
Remove cover, raise the heat back to medium high and saute for another 5-10 minutes.
As the onions caramelize, wash and de-stem the kale. I like to use a Tuscan variety but any type will do. You can cut the stem out with a knife but sometimes it is easier to just rip it with your hands.
Blanch the Kale for about 5 minutes in the large pot of boiling, salted water, remove with a spider or tongs, and coarsely chop.
Cook the pasta in the same water you used to cook the kale. You can use any kind of pasta. I have used spaghetti, penne and casarecce.
As the pasta cooks, add lentils (do not strain) and kale to the onions. Stir and let simmer as the pasta cooks.
Before you strain the pasta, reserve a cup of the liquid. Fold pasta into the kale and lentils, adding small amounts of the reserved liquid as necessary to keep moist. Let this mixture simmer together for about 5 minutes, stir in some grated parmesan, and serve.