As I was packing for our weekend trip to Berlin to celebrate my 40th birthday Brad asked me what I was looking forward to most and what came out of my mouth might surprise you but here is goes anyway. My reply was bread. I know I could’ve thought of any number of things like time off work, sleeping in and having nothing to do, hanging out with my guy without any interruptions instead I was getting excited about eating bread again.
Brad and I are probably not the only ones who started the month of January with a renewed commitment to a healthier, more active lifestyle, and also with a realisation that shedding a few pounds was a part of the package, so we dutifully finished off all the remaining sweets and fatty snacks and started anew. Carbs and sugar were identified as the main offenders and were eliminated from the diet for at least the first two weeks.
It’s been hard. I can do without sweets but I am a carb addict. Pasta, potatoes, rice, bread; I love them all, but bread has a special place in my heart. I was brought up in a Russian household, we eat bread with everything. Second after bread comes risotto; steamy, creamy risotto and here is where these lentils come in. I named my dish “risotto” because my only other options were to combine words lentils and risotto and end up with lisotto or call it faux risotto. No to both, so risotto in quotation marks it is!
This dish is actually not too far off from a real risotto if you are into lentils like we are. The basic method is the same but unlike risotto you don’t have to stir!! What makes this lentil risotto exceptional is a bit of mushroom and truffle paste added at the end. I love that stuff and no, they are not paying me to advertise! If you can’t find that particular brand use any truffle flavoured butter or oil available to you. I’ve also thrown in some kale to bulk it up and to increase our veg consumption. I used cavolo nero variety, also known as black kale, black cabbage or even Dino kale, (short for dinosaur), as it is the one kind I truly enjoy. Sorry curly kale, you are too tough for me! A few shavings of parmesan and a hot bowl of lentil and kale risotto is in front of you. It’s lean, healthy and incredibly delicious! We’ve been eating it at least 4-5 times a week for the last 3 weeks, so I’ve had time to perfect the recipe.
I developed this recipe to fill the void that abandoning carbs had created but to my and Brad’s surprise we absolutely fell in love with it. Just last night Brad asked me to keep the recipe on our regular dinner rotations even when “we are off this crazy diet”. Done and done.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 garlic cloves
- 200 g/ 1 cup green lentils
- 750 ml/3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 100 g/4 stems of kale/ cavolo nero, sliced
- 1 tbsp mushroom and truffle sauce or truffle butter
- parmesan cheese
- Heat olive oil in a deep pan and add chopped onion and celery, cook for 10 minutes over low heat until softened, add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, then add lentils and toast them while stirring for 1 minute.
- Add stock, sliced kale and salt, stir to combine and cover with a lid, cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, then take the lid and cook for 30 more minutes.
- A few minutes before the lentils are cooked stir in mushroom and truffle sauce and grate some parmesan cheese over it, stir to combine.
- The lentils should be tender but still hold their shape and the kale should be soft.