This striking lentil dish, from chef-owner Johnny Monis of Komi, relies on a rather unusual cooking technique. While most recipes boil lentils in liquid until cooked through, Monis prefers to bring the lentils and liquid to a boil, remove them from the heat and set them aside until the lentils soak up the water. That virtually eliminates the common problem of lentils breaking when overcooked even slightly.
Instead of using cooked collard greens or kale, you may instead stir in thinly sliced raw spinach leaves just before serving.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 2 tablespoons whole cardamom pods, smashed
- 1/2 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
- 5 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock or water may be used)
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1/2 bunch collard greens
- 2 cups black beluga lentils (may substitute French lentils, also known as lentils du Puy)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup cauliflower, broken into the smallest possible florets (about 1/2 inch in diameter)
- 1 small shallot, finely choped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons plain yogurt, preferably Greek
In a saucepan over low heat, toast the cardamom and cumin seeds until aromatic, 30 to 60 seconds. Add 2 cups of stock and bring to a rapid simmer. Add the bay leaf, turn off the heat, cover and set aside for 45 minutes. Strain the stock, discarding the solids.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the collard greens and cook until bright green and slightly wilted, about 30 seconds. Drain, rinse with cold water and pat dry. Stack the leaves on top of one another and slice them crosswise into thin strips. Set aside.
Rinse and drain the lentils. Place them in a saucepan and add the reserved warm stock and remaining 3 cups of plain stock. Bring the lentils to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside for 18 to 20 minutes, until they are barely tender. Drain.
In a skillet or large saute pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and slightly softened. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the lentils and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the collard greens and yogurt. Taste and season accordingly.
Johnny Monis of Komi
Tested by Pam Kendrick.
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