Make Ahead

Creamed Lentils with Kale

January  5, 2016
1 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I enjoy the versatility of this warm, comforting dish. It works well alongside hearty winter proteins like roasted chicken or pork tenderloin, but it can also stand alone. This morning, I fantasized about serving these lentils for breakfast with a fried egg on top. The fresh grated nutmeg makes the dish pop, and the soft richness of the lentils evokes the pleasure of creamed spinach. —Josh Cohen

What You'll Need
  • 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
  1. Place a medium sized pot over medium heat, and add just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, shallot, and onion. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir frequently, until the mixture is soft and translucent.
  2. Add the miso and the tomato paste. Using a rubber spatula, stir the miso and the tomato paste until they are incorporated. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lentils and the water. Turn the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat so that the liquid is barely simmering. Cook for 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is almost completely evaporated.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, let’s deal with the kale. Chiffonade the kale by rolling bundles of leaves into the shape of a cigar, then slicing across the kale cigar to create thin strips. Chiffonade the kale in batches. When you’re finished, set a large skillet over medium heat, and add olive oil until the bottom of the skillet is just covered. When the oil is hot, add the kale stir continuously until it has shrunk significantly in size. Continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the kale is soft and fully wilted. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste it. Is it delicious? Adjust the seasoning as necessary and set aside.
  4. When the lentils have simmered for 35-45 minutes, add the sauteed kale and the heavy cream. Continue to cook the lentils gently, so that they are barely simmering. Stir occasionally. After 35-45 minutes, the cream should be almost completely reduced. The lentils should be glistening and any remaining liquid should be thick and creamy. Using a microplane, grate ¾ of the whole fresh nutmeg into the lentils. Add the sage. Stir and taste. Adjust with more salt and/or more freshly grated nutmeg as necessary. Serve it and eat it.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • typeo_girl
  • Susan Pearson
    Susan Pearson
  • Nichole Scott
    Nichole Scott
  • Josh Cohen
    Josh Cohen

11 Reviews

typeo_girl January 25, 2017
Will this dish hold if I make it ahead on the weekend to warm up for a weekday dinner?
Josh C. January 25, 2017
Hi Cheryl,

You can definitely make this dish ahead of time, and then reheat it for a weekday dinner. Add a little water when you reheat it, to prevent it from getting too dry.
typeo_girl January 25, 2017
Thanks Josh! I have a bag of green lentils and I love kale, so I am making this Sunday for next week sometime. Appreciate you getting back to me!
Susan P. November 29, 2016
I made this for a vegetarian main for Thanksgiving and it was delicious!
Natalie R. October 4, 2016
I made this on at the beginning of a dreary, drizzly week, and it was perfect. I think I might have used 50% more kale, which thinned the cream, but since I'm not used to eating rich food I didn't mind. I would have liked a weight estimate for the amount of kale the recipe expected, though. Nutmeg, lentils, and kale are just made for each other.

The recipe left me craving it long after I'd finished the leftovers. However, the combination of lentils and cream reminded me of cannellini bean stews, so I think it would be worthwhile to swap the ingredients and see how it turned out. I wouldn't call it the same dish at all, but it would probably be good in its own right.

As for the lentils getting mushy, french green are good at holding their own, the tomato paste might add some acidity to keep them firm (it's such a small amount, though), and the second round of cooking doesn't seem to cook the lentils or the kale much more than when they were first added. It really just firms up the cream in the residual starch. Each lentil was quite distinct when it was done.

Thank you for making this recipe!
Paul April 17, 2016
Can I just clarify, does this suggest cooking the lentils for a total of 70-90 minutes? That seems an awfully long time? I'd have thought they'd be little more than mush at that point?
Josh C. April 20, 2016
Hi Paul,

The lentils are not mush after all that cooking. They are tender and soft, yet they still hold their shape. The addition of kale and heavy cream is intended to evoke memories of creamed spinach.
Ttrockwood January 22, 2016
I made a few changes- i used a dark miso since that's what i had and use a full fat canned coconut milk instead of heavy cream (I can't have dairy)
Delicious!! Made for a hearty filling meal as is, and wonderful lunch a day later. I will certainly make it again!
Josh C. January 22, 2016
I always encourage people to alter the recipe as they see fit - I'm very glad that you made this recipe your own, and that you enjoyed it! Thanks for the comment.
Nichole S. January 19, 2016
I just tried this gem of a recipe last night! Ohhhh My Gawd, perfect rainy day comfort food. Meaty and tasty enough to even totally satisfy the man of the house who demanded leftovers for lunch! This will go into rotation in our house for sure!
Nancy S. January 17, 2016
So delicious. I added a bit of hot sauce for depth with the cream. And unless you live alone, you'll be wanting to double this recipe if you plan to enjoy it all week.