Sack Lunch: Beluga Lentils and Broccoli Rabe Recipe

Sack Lunch: Beluga Lentils and Broccoli Rabe Recipe

Chefs often say that diners choose entrées based on sides: for instance, anything paired with mashed potatoes moves faster than it otherwise would. At my house, though, I don’t pay much attention to the side dishes, maybe because there’s only one thing on the menu every night. Usually I’m rushing to steam broccoli or make a pot of rice to round out a meal.

Side dishes were not an afterthought, however, last week when I made Suzanne Goin’s brisket from Sunday Suppers at Lucques. As always this book reminded me that you can make truly amazing food in a home kitchen with the right inspiration and instructions. The brisket’s companions, beluga lentils and sautéed broccoli rabe, made an excellent lunch for the rest of the week: a fancified version of my sack-lunch standby beans and greens. With a slice of crusty bread and a piece of cheese, these leftovers, which are good either heated or at room temperature, would make one of the nicest lunches I can imagine.

  • Yield:6 as a side dish or 4 for lunch


  • 1 1/2 cups beluga lentils
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 chile de árbol
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3 sprigs basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds rapini, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 chile de árbol, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. 1.

    Rinse the lentils and pick through them to remove any small stones.

  2. 2.

    Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in 2 tablespoons olive oil and wait a minute. Add the onion, thyme, chile, 1 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cook the onion, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

  3. 3.

    Add the lentils and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring to coat the lentils in the oil and vegetables. Reduce the heat to low and add the wine. Quickly add 6 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down the heat and simmer 25-30 minutes, until the lentils are tender.

  4. 4.

    Strain the lentils over a bowl. Toss them with the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil, the basil sprigs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid. (Add more of the liquid if the lentils seem dry.) Taste for seasoning.

  5. 5.

    Sautéed Rapini with Garlic and Chile

  6. 6.

    Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.

  7. 7.

    Blanch the rapini a couple of minutes in the rapidly boiling water, until just tender and al dente. Drain. Cool on a platter or baking sheet.

  8. 8.

    Heat a large sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and add the garlic, shallots, thyme, and chile. Cook a few minutes, until the shallots are translucent. Add the rapini and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir well, coating the rapini with the other ingredients and bathing it in the oil. Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup oil over the rapini and sauté 2 minutes, tossing often. Sprinkle another teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper over the rapini, toss, and taste for seasoning.