Pasta with Lentils and Kale

The fall/winter vegetable featured in this recipe is kale. This is in line with the theme of eating food in season for the South Arm Cooking Club for seniors.


If you do not want to cook the lentils, you can use canned lentils or white beans but rinse them well. Chopped hazelnuts or walnuts or leftover cooked bacon, sausage or chicken can be added for added protein.


  • 1/2 cup French (small) green lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 pound kale (preferably Tuscan; sometimes labeled as “lacinato”)
  • 3/4 pound dried short pasta
  • grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or toasted breadcrumbs for topping


Source: this recipe is adapted from Gourmet April 2007


Lentils and onions can be cooked up to 5 days ahead and chilled. Cool completely and covered before refrigeration. Reheat over low heat, thinning with water as necessary.

Kale can be washed and trimmed 1 day ahead and chilled in a sealed plastic bag lined with dampened paper towels.


Pasta-with-Lentils-and-Kale-2Rinse and simmer lentils in 2 cups of water with 1/4 teaspoons salt in a small saucepan, uncovered.Add more water if necessary to keep lentils barely covered.

Cook until lentil is tender but not falling apart, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and season with salt to taste.

Pasta-with-Lentils-and-Kale-3While lentils simmer, heat 1/4 cup oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute onion with pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring, 1 minute.Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and golden (stir more frequently toward the end of the cooking), about 20 minutes.

Remove lid and increase heat to moderate, then cook, stirring frequently, until onion is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes more.

Pasta-with-Lentils-and-Kale-4While onion cooks, cut out and discard stems and center ribs from kale. Coarsely chop kale.

Cook kale in a large pot o boiling salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove kale with a sieve, pressing lightly to remove excess liquid.

Use the same pot of water to cook the pasta according to instructions on packaging, until al dente.

Pasta-with-Lentils-and-Kale-6Add cooked kale to onion along with lentils (including lentil cooking liquid), then simmer , stirring, 1 minute.Season with salt and pepper.
Pasta-with-Lentils-and-Kale-7Reserve about 1 cup pasta cooking liquid, then drain pasta in a colander.
Pasta-with-Lentils-and-Kale-9Add pasta to the lentil, kale and onion mixture along with about 1/3 cup of pasta-cooking liquid (or enough to keep the pasta moist) and cook over high heat, tossing for 1 minute.Season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Top with grated Parmesan cheese before serving.

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