This is one of those fairly seasonless side dishes that I’m grateful to have in my repertoire – it’s versatile, it’s quick, and it’s dead easy. When it’s available, I love to use bright, lovely rainbow chard for the extra pop of color it adds to the dish, but you can use regular chard or even beet greens here. Adding the stems means nothing is wasted, and slicing them thin helps them cook up nice and tender. I usually serve this alongside a simply prepared piece of fish, but you could easily turn it into a meatless main dish by topping it with a fried or poached egg, or a crumble of feta or goat cheese. —lastnightsdinner
extra virgin olive oil, divided
sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher or sea salt
dried lentils (I like Puy, Beluga, or Spanish Pardina lentils, but you can use regular green lentils as well)
Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add the shallot, thyme, and a pinch of salt and cook until softened. Add the lentils and stir to coat with oil. Cook for a minute before adding the water and wine. Cover and reduce the heat to low, then continue cooking until the lentils are tender and have absorbed all of the liquid, about 20-30 minutes.
Rinse the chard well to remove any grit. Fold the leaves over so that the center stem is on the outside, and making a v-shaped cut, separate the stems from the leaves. Trim the very bottoms of the stems and discard, and then slice the stems very thinly on the bias. Fold the chard leaves in half, roll them up cigar-style, and slice into ½- to 1-inch ribbons.
Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to a sauté pan and warm over medium heat. Add the red chile flakes and garlic and cook just until fragrant. Add the chard stems and a pinch of salt, stir to coat them with oil, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the sliced chard leaves and another pinch of salt and toss. Cook until they’re just wilted, then remove them from the heat. Remove the thyme sprig from the cooked lentils, then combine the lentils and chard in a serving bowl and drizzle with a little sherry vinegar, stirring gently to combine.