I know I've been harping on the weather a bit lately, but ... I'm optimistic this will be my last real wintry recipe. I am so ready for artichokes, spring peas, and ramps, but until it gets a little warmer outside I'm braising. Lentils.
Braising is one of my favorite words in the culinary vocabulary. I love everything about it. I love what it stands for, I love to braise foods, and I love to eat braised foods. It's one of the laziest methods of cooking, and yet produces some of the most flavorful results.
When you hear the word braise, the first thing that might come to mind is meat. But not here, not today. Today we're braising lentils. Because braised lentils are delicious. They get the same amount of love and red wine that anything else that is braised would get. With a slightly healthier result.
I was inspired to braise lentils after reading Melissa's Clark recipe for braised beans in dining section of the New York Times. It sounded like such a warm, hearty, good wintry dish, and when I made her braised beans and they definitely hit all of those notes. Then I tried a version with black lentils that were just as satisfying, and a little easier to prepare in a pinch since black lentils do not need to be soaked.
To make this a complete meal that would satisfy the gamut from vegans to carnivores, they needed a little something more. A dense pieces of grilled polenta to soak up all the delicious braising juices does the trick. Some kale or spinach as the base adds some bite and some green. I cannot think of a more satisfying and complete dinner for a chilly evening.