Kale Love (& some lentils, too)

I’m the meal planner in the family. So, at the start of every week, I put each night’s dinner on our Google calendar with recipe information. The first person home usually starts dinner based on what the calendar says is the plan. I can’t take credit for that idea—our friend and neighbor, Heather, suggested it and I thought it was brilliant! And, now I do it just about every week! For the meal planning, we have some standards but I like to peruse one of the many cookbooks we have, search the internet, and flip through magazines for new recipes. Honestly, though, I rarely ever follow a recipe verbatim. I think cooking should be personal, something that’s a reflection of your taste and preferences, what looks best at the market as well as what’s in season. I plan vegetarian meals most days, so the weekly shopping comprises mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, with beans, tofu, dairy, and eggs as our protein sources. I buy organic, local produce when available, we’re fortunate enough to be able to do this and live an area of the country that promotes and supports a farm-to-table culture.

One thing I buy every week is kale; we use it at least once (often more) a week–seriously. It’s loaded with vitamin A and K, as well as fiber, and is a decent dose of calcium. I’ll admit it, I’m a fan, especially of Lacinato kale, raw or cooked, and we eat a lot of the green crunchy stuff in our house. It is a topping (one of our absolute favorites) on our Friday night pizza; it gets tossed in salads; mixed in with beans and rice; tossed with pasta. I haven’t tossed it in our smoothies yet…

The warm days we’ve been having in Seattle—it’s 85 degrees in April (!)—make light dinners, with minimal cooking and maximum flavor, a must. There is a bit of prep work for the lentil-kale salad, but everything but the diced avocado can be prepped days ahead of time making this a pretty quick weeknight meal. The leftovers make a nice lunch the next day, too.


Lentil-Kale Salad

Lentils – this should yield about 1 cup of cooked lentils

½ C dry French lentils

1 ½ C water

1 garlic glove, peeled & roughly chopped

2 tsp Salt

  • Combine all in medium pot; bring to a boil.
  • Cover & reduce heat to medium-low (a light simmer).
  • Cook for 25–30 minutes until tender (not mushy). If you need to add a little more water along the way, add about ½ cup hot water at a time. The cooking time will depend a little on how fresh the lentils are.

**You can cook the lentils a couple of days ahead. 

Citrus Vinaigrette:

2 Tbl olive oil

1.5 Tbl fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)

2 Tbl fresh orange juice (1/2 orange)

2 tsp honey

1 Tbl spicy Dijon mustard

1 tsp salt 

  • Mix everything in a jar, tighten the lid, & shake!
  • You’ll have some vinaigrette left over—this should keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. 

For the Salad:

1 ½ C sliced Lacinato kale (60 g; about ½ medium-size bunch)

1 C cooked French lentils (151 g)

¼ C sliced carrots (27 g)

5 baby plum tomatoes, chopped (51 g)

¼ C chopped red onion (25 g)

½ C finely chopped cauliflower (73 g)

1/3 C sliced olives (21 g) I used a mix of Kalmata & Castelvetrano olives

1 boiled egg, chopped

½ Small avocado, diced

¼ C citrus vinaigrette

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Toss the diced avocado with a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice—this will help keep the avocado from browning.
  • Mix everything but the salt & pepper in a large bowl—toss to coat evenly.
  • Salt & pepper to taste.

A few notes:

  • This salad keeps, with the vinaigrette, for a day or two. The kale is sturdy enough to hold up to the dressing for a couple of days. If you plan to keep it longer, wait to toss with the vinaigrette.
  • This recipe is completely a guide—make it your own by adding (or subtracting) any vegetables you like!
  • This is also good with seeds or nuts added—just add them just before you eat the salad.

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