Corkscrews with Lentils and Kale

Hope all you U.S. folks are having a wonderful Thanksgiving.  This recipe (which has nothing to do with the Holiday) was adapted from my beautiful Gourmet Today cookbook.  Thank you Sunny.  I say adapted because we did actually start out with the exact version (above photo), which Bob thought was fine, but to me tasted boring.  Yes, I said the b... word,  forbidden in my childhood.  We were (all 7 of us) told not to use it, and vehemently exhorted, "Only the bores are bored."  Which, I can actually understand coming from a mother with seven children and not having a lot of excess time to be in entertainment mode.  But what is under discussion here is taste, or lack of it.  The caramelized onion note was missing from the symphony.  I was ready for dinner before they were completely golden brown.  So....   not enough oomph.  I like some gusto in my food, flavor that sings to me.  And,  I'm not sure if that missing element would have been sufficient by itself.  Not saucy enough for my taste either.

Thus, we have reprise #1:
Since the recipe made a gargantuan amount, I tried a portion for lunch to see what might be done.  Added some fresh arugula, and avocado, a squeeze of kafir lime, salt, and a splash of my vinaigrette.  Now, that was great, served as a yummy cold salad for lunch. This Reprise #1, I'm linking to Let's Do Lunch this week, over at My Sweet and Savory.

I will give the original recipe and you can vary it if you like, as I did in reprise 1, or reprise 2 - the dinner, which follows.
Rotini with Lentils and Kale

From Gourmet Today, edited by Ruth Reichl


1/2 cup small French green lentils
2 cups water
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. onions, chopped
1 1/4  lb. Tuscan kale
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. rotini or small tubular pasta

Combine lentils, water and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 1-2 quart saucepan, bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered until tender but not falling apart (20-25 minutes); add more water if necessary to keep the lentils barely covered.  Remove from heat and season with additional salt if desired.

Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally (more frequently toward the end of cooking), until onions are soft and golden, about 30 minutes.  Remove lid and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown, 5 - 10 minutes more. (Ha) Now this is where I lacked patience.  After 10 - 15 minutes the onions still were not golden brown, even after turning up the heat..... and I quit.  So, it takes longer than indicated in the recipe.  You have to allow for that.

While onions cook, remove the stems and center ribs from kale.  Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a 7-8 qt. pot and stir in 3 tablespoons salt.  Stir in kale and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 5-7 minutes.  With tongs, transfer kale to a colander to drain, pressing lightly on kale.
(Keep water at a boil.)

Coarsely chop kale.  Add to onions, along with lentils (including cooking liquid), and simmer, stirring for 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, add pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente.  Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water and drain.  Add to lentil mixture and cook over high heat, tossing for 1 minute, adding 1/3  cup of the pasta water, or enough to keep pasta moist.  Season with pepper and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.

A wonderful, simple combination of ingredients, with the meaty little Le Puy French lentils and brilliant green kale.  The pasta I used is quinoa multi-colored corkscrews, or rotini.  Lacking only a bit of unctuousness (sauce?) and more of a flavor zap, which might just be provided by a thorough caramelizing of those onions.

At any rate, now for reprise #2:

To make up for the not so caramelized onions, I added :
1/2 packet dehydrated onions
1/2 cup white wine
1 small container mascarpone or 1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup prosciutto, chopped and fried to crumble over the top (optional - Vegetarians use toasted breadcrumbs)

Fry the prosciutto until crispy, and set aside.  Bring 1/2 cup white wine to a simmer in the same skillet, and dissolve the dried onions, stirring to incorporate the browned bacony bits on the bottom.  Stir in the cream and let it get hot,  then add the pasta mixture in, tossing over medium heat until well combined and heated through.

Sprinkle the prosciutto bits (or bacon) over and serve.  Nice umami, creamy sauce, loads of flavor.  YES.

Is there anything at all a little bacon and cream wouldn't help?

This is my contribution to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Denise of Oh Taste n See.  Check out  the wonderful variety of noodles that will arrive on the round-up after Friday.  Also linking to My Meatless Mondays.  Though it has nothing whatever to do with the holiday, aside from being a dish to serve when you've had enough turkey -  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Joanne said...

I hate it when a meal ends up being disappointing but it sounds like your redo was excellent!

Ruth Daniels said...

I'm with Joanne and glad you got to make the redos - both of which have me drooling. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

Arfi Binsted said...

It looks simple and lovely!

Miriam said...

This sounds like just the perfect meal that I would love to make and eat. I see the "umph" you were talking about in your version. Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Bethany said...

What an interesting dish! I hope you'll link this over at Menu Inspiration Monday!


Robert said...

That looks amazing, I have never really heard of Kale before I read about it at http://www.capturinghappiness.com/k-is-for-steamin-kale they didn't give a recipe for it, but this looks like I might have to try it!

Sweet and Savory said...

I love this recipe and I thank you for linking this to Let's Do Lunch.
You were picked to highlight this week. That should be up by noon, today.