Weeknight CookingWhat to CookMake-Ahead MealsSide DishesVegetables

The Make-Ahead Lentil & Kale Dish for Desperate Times

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I am a culinary thrill-seeker. I daydream about tasting obscure ingredients from far-flung places. When someone says, “Yuck, this is the weirdest thing I’ve eaten,” I say, “Hey buddy, can I taste it?” There is only one scenario that causes problems for me: that moment when all of a sudden you realize that you are very hungry and your refrigerator is very empty.

Creamed Lentils with Kale
Creamed Lentils with Kale

A friend or loved one may offer a stopgap solution like a carrot stick or a cracker, but you might be too ravenous for these feeble items. You need something savory, warm, and filling, and you need it fast! If only you had planned ahead by cooking a big batch of creamed lentils with kale, you could have stored some in your refrigerator for moments just like this.


Now, you may be asking yourself, what are creamed lentils? Most importantly, they are soft, luscious, and fulfilling. Technically speaking, they are French green lentils that have been cooked past the point of doneness so that they begin to break down and achieve a creamy texture. The addition of sautéed lacinato kale and a splash of heavy cream toward the end of the cooking process helps evoke the nostalgia of creamed spinach. A dusting of freshly grated nutmeg elevates the dish from utilitarian to exciting. Another exciting flourish: This dish specifically calls for water instead of stock to cook the lentils because the water will mix with a few umami-heavy ingredients to make essentially a quick homemade stock—it’s sure to surpass any store-bought stock in flavor and freshness.

Photo by James Ransom

It is true that I am always looking for my next great food adventure. But, I also feel very satisfied when I am eating simple, classic flavors that have been thoughtfully prepared. This creamed lentils dish will satisfy at all hours of the day. It can be used as a side dish underneath roasted chicken or pork, it can be eaten on its own as a hearty vegetarian lunch, or you can even eat some with a fried egg on top for breakfast. Just remember to plan ahead before you get too hungry and find yourself with an empty refrigerator.

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Creamed Lentils with Kale

40f4e192 1d25 4f40 b8f3 90ea1bdb64f6  unnamed Josh Cohen

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Serves 4
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, de-stemmed and washed
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 fresh whole nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground sage

Tags: kale, lentils