Kale Lentil Pasta

I need to start an herb garden.  Growing things is outrageously easy in Hawaii because a) endless sunshine b) sporadic rain and c) the air permeates happiness.  Plants love happy places.

But Boston? The basil I bought last week is already showing signs of winter manic depression.  What’ll happen with the mint? The cilantro?  The sage?!  I can’t raise them in such a hostile world that won’t accept them for who they are!  Herbs just want to grow!

Wait, what?

Okay, so I know that indoor herb gardens should be in a south or west-facing room.  But my kitchen faces north.  I don’t want to grow my herbs in my bedroom.  Granted, I’ll treat them like little green children, but this is a problem.

In exchange for green thumb advice, I bestow this easy and protein-ee recipe.

Another thing about Boston, and I swear this’ll be my last weather-related complaint, is that the flippin’ sun is starting to go down earlier.  I come home around 5:30pm and have little over an hour to cook so as to utilize the natural light (Natty Light!).

 It’s kind of funny, actually.  I turn all the lights off in the kitchen, even though the sun’s pretty much gone, and bring my cutting board to the window to take a photo.

I have a thing for caramelized onions.  Kind of an obsession.  Kind of a love affair.  I might need therapy.

This is a pretty loose recipe.  Get creative with it!

Kale Lentil Pasta.

1 1/2 cups lentils, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons butter
1 large red onion
5 cloves minced garlic
18oz whole wheat penne pasta
10-15 large kale leaves, chopped
handful of fresh basil, some chopped and some for garnishing
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

To caramelize the onion, slice fine, as shown, and cook for about an hour in olive oil on medium heat.  Make sure you keep a close eye – you don’t want the onions to brown prematurely.  The browning should come from the natural sugars emerging, not the frying pan.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the penne pasta.  Cook until just turning soft, then add the kale to blanch.  Drain and throw the pot back on the stove, adding the butter, garlic, pepper flakes, chopped basil, and lentils.  Briefly fry in the pot, letting the pasta brown slightly (fried pasta, what?!).

Dress with parmesan cheese and a few basil leaves.  Serves about 5 hungry people.


Lentil Burgers

Do you know what’s cool about getting older?  Besides losing the acne and stinky feet, I can now buy amazing shea butter.  I can light candles in my room.  I can drink gin and tonics. . .whenever I want.  Weekends are for fun and not group projects.  Hey wait, weeknights are for fun, too.

Don’t get me wrong, with age comes allergies and lactose intolerance – two ailments I’ve whole-heartedly ignored – but I’ve been waiting for my twentysomethings since before I was a teenager.

Easily the best thing about getting older is that I’ve gotten better.  Not at everything, because I will always be bad at opening doors and proper word usage, but just about all the things I care to get better at, I have.

Like cooking.  And photography.

I once tried making lentil walnut burgers last year from my trusty Moosewood Cookbook, but made such a mess of it that I had to throw it out.  I burned the lentils.  I put the burnt lentil walnut mixture straight on the grill and it, amazingly, fell straight through the rack.  Duh, right?  Any peabrain could have seen that coming.

But round two yielded brilliant results.  My recipe wins!

With age comes sharp knives that will chop mushrooms in a flash.

I made these breadcrumbs with the exorbitant amount of bread in the freezer.  I toasted 3 slices to get them really dry and threw them in the food processor until they were crummy.  Honey whole wheat beauty.

I nibbled on these while shaping them with a 1/2 measuring cup.  They plopped right out.

Did I mention getting to drink whenever I want?  Why yes, that is a Harpoon Cider.  And yes, that’s also kim chee topping the burger.  And arugula.  And provolone.  And spicy brown mustard.  But Mimi, you may ask, don’t those toppings overwhelm the flavor of the beany burger?


Nope.  The burger is delicious and pronounced with whatever you choose to slap on.

Lentil Burgers.

1 1/4 cup lentils
3 cups water, salted
1 medium chopped onion
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup breadcrumbs (if not homemade, Japanese Panko works best)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg
pepper, to taste

Optional toppings.

kim chee
provolone cheese
spicy brown mustard

Cook the lentils in the water until lentils are soft, about half an hour, then drain.  While the lentils are cooking, saute the onion and carrots with olive oil in a large pan until onion is translucent.

Add mushrooms, breadcrumbs, salt, oregano, and chili and cook until the breadcrumbs have absorbed most of the oils and mushroom juices.  Add lentils and cook for another 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and add butter, letting it melt completely before cooling for about 30 minutes.

Once the mixture has cooled, add the egg and mix throughout.  The egg will help make more solid patties.

With a 1/2 measuring cup, create rounded patties to be fried on a medium-high-heated skillet.    When placing the patties on the skillet, use a slated spatula to create the grill marks you’re missing out on.  Flip once one side is crispy, then add a slice of cheese.

Dress however you please.  Drink however you please.

Makes 6 patties.