In an attempt to eat healthier in general, Boyfriend and I have taken to loading up on vegetables at the Farmer's Market and then looking through cookbooks for interesting ways to cook them. We found huge stalks of purple kale with bright pink stalks and purpley veins running through firm, dark green leaves. It was irresistible. The recipe we chose was from my favourite food blog, orangette (see link below) but there were some changes. The recipe was for braised greens with chickpeas, and seemed pretty simple. We substituted shallots for the onions, because we'll need them for a recipe later this week (stay tuned) but we were a bit stumped when we found that our local grocery store had no chickpeas. Seriously, no chickpeas. No brand-name chickpeas, no store-brand chickpeas, no organic chickpeas. No chickpeas at all. We were in disbelief. How could there be no chickpeas? There was a big gaping hole on the shelf between the beans and the lentils where the chickpeas should have been. The beans and lentils were both decently stocked. It made no sense. Boyfriend and I wandered up and down the aisle, muttering "no chickpeas? no chickpeas!" over and over. Eventually, we were forced to give up.
Now, I very rarely make changes to recipes. Shallots for onions are one thing, but how could we not have chickpeas with braised greens and chickpeas? After much, much deliberation, we decided to go with the lentils. Neither of us are very experienced with them, but we figured they looked similar and are both involved in Indian food in similar ways, so we nervously went ahead with it.
Boyfriend washed the Kale while I sliced it into ribbons. The kitten had a very odd reaction to the Kale, she seemed to be afraid of it. When boyfriend shook a leaf she'd leap at it, then mewl at me with fear and confusion in her eyes. She later took a stalk (about a foot long) and ran upstairs with it.
We cooked garlic and shallots in olive oil in the large skillet until the onions were nice and soft, then added the lentils. We weren't sure how long to cook them, as it turns out lentils are very tiny and probably don't need to be cooked long at all. Anyway, we gave it a few minutes and then added the kale. Looking from the bowl of kale ribbons and the pan they were supposed to go into, my elementary understanding of physics warned me this couldn't possibly work. I threw in a a handful, and the kale shrunk up wonderfully. I was able to add it, handful by handful every few minutes until all had somehow found room in the skillet. Orangette then advises gently simmering for 15 minutes, but we found this to be unnecessary. Either because the lentils were so small or because it took so long to get all the kale in, we worried about overcooking after about 5 minutes.
The result was one of my favourite things: warm mush. Comforting and yummy. I once dated a vegan who said that he liked his food to taste as much like dirt as possible (we didn't last long) and I think I almost understand what he was saying when I ate this. There was a simple earthiness to it. Boyfriend found it a bit bland, and not quite filling enough, but it was just right for me and I think it'll make a great lunch. Next time I'll have to see how well it keeps.
The best food blog out there: www.orangette.blogspot.com