The weather in Chicago has been absurdly cold the last week or so, with consistent below-average temperatures threatening winter before we've even seen the leaves change. My usual instinct is to respond with cooking that suits the temperature. If I don't want it to be this cold, then at least I can eat food that tastes best when it is this cold.
And so I turned (again) to a recipe from Last Night's Dinner, an informal little dish that's as comforting as an "old worn out sweater." Simple lentils with shallot and red wine, a pile of braised winter greens, and a fried egg on top. It's tasty, full of vitamins, and very easy to make.
I immediately thought back to something I cooked in April, a lentil salad with fresh wilted baby spinach. The flavors here are deeper, and winter greens are the star -- any kind of chard works well, or something sturdier like kale, mustard greens, or collards.
Braised Lentils with Winter Greens and a Fried Egg
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup French green lentils
- 1 bunch winter greens, such as kale, chard, collards, etc.
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste
- Splash of lemon juice or sherry vinegar
- salt and black pepper
- 2 eggs
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup water and the red wine, bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender but not mushy, 30 minutes or so. Add more water as necessary. Season to taste with salt.
In the meantime, wash the greens and slice the leaves away from the stems and roughly chop the leaves. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil, garlic, and chili flakes in a saucepan or large skillet until fragrant, then add the leaves along with 1/4 cup or so of water and a pinch of salt. Cover, turn the heat to medium-low, and allow the leaves to steam as the water evaporates, tasting for tenderness and adding more water as necessary. Finish with lemon juice or vinegar to taste, and perhaps more olive oil.
When the lentils and greens are nearing completion, heat the remaining oil in a small non-stick skillet and fry the eggs sunny-side-up, about 3 minutes over medium-low heat, until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny.
Serve the greens on a bed of lentils, topped with the egg and fresh black pepper.