Recipe: Coconut-braised kale and lentils with lemon

Garlic, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, and lemon peels (I don't have a sharp grater, so I ended up cooking with big chunks of peel instead of zest). Can't go wrong with ingredients like these!
Garlic, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, and lemon peels (I don’t have a sharp grater, so I ended up cooking with big chunks of peel instead of zest). Can’t go wrong with ingredients like these!

I saw this recipe on The Kitchn ages ago and have been meaning to make it ever since. Since I had an open bag of lentils, I opted to swap in lentils for the canned chickpeas called for in the original recipe,  swapped kale for baby spinach because it’s much cheaper here in the UK, and added a bit of coriander as a complement to the lemon, but otherwise this is pretty much their recipe.

Heating up the lentils.
Heating up the lentils.
This is just after adding the last of the kale. It doesn't cook down quite as much as spinach would, but there's still an impressive reduction in volume.
This is just after adding the last of the kale. It doesn’t cook down quite as much as spinach would, but there’s still an impressive reduction in volume.

How did it turn out? Awesome! The combination of lentils and kale is a darn good one, and the coconut and lemon play off each other very nicely. I prefer a bit more spice in my dishes, so I’d probably add more ginger and double the red pepper flakes next time, but this is a nice, pretty simple, allergy/vegan-friendly, and healthy meal.

The more-or-less final product, coconut milk and all (not that you can really tell).
The more-or-less final product, coconut milk and all (not that you can really tell).
Served on a sweet potato with Sriracha and fresh black pepper. Tasty!
Served on a sweet potato with Sriracha and fresh black pepper. Tasty!

Coconut-Braised Kale and Lentils with Lemon

Yield: 6 servings

Adapted from: The Kitchn.

1 c brown lentils, optionally soaked for ~4 hrs
2 tsp oil
1 small yellow onion
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp freshly-grated ginger
1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1 dried hot red pepper or dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
~1 lb chopped kale
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (I used light)
1.5 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the lentils: Add lentils and ~2 c water to a pot, bring to a  a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes if not pre-soaked, ~10-20 minutes if pre-soaked. Add water as needed to make sure the lentils are just barely covered. When the lentils are just tender and no longer crunch, remove from heat, strain, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, deep Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to brown. Add the garlic, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest, and red pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the lentils and cook over high heat for a few minutes, or until the lentils get a bit crispy and are coated with the onion and garlic mixture.

Toss in the kale, a few handfuls at a time. This will take about 5 minutes; stir it in and wait for it to wilt down slightly before adding the next handful. When all the kale has been added, pour in the coconut milk, ground ginger, and lemon juice with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the kale is tender and lentils are fully cooked. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and lemon juice, if necessary.

Serving suggestion: goes well over sweet potatoes (preferably roasted, but my oven is currently broken…), and would go well over quinoa, brown rice, or even buckwheat. Fresh cilantro and toasted almonds are the suggested toppings from the original Kitchn recipe, and I think they’d be great here as well. I just went with black pepper Sriracha. 🙂

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