This one-dish vegetarian meal is hearty enough to satisfy families with a mix of vegetarians & meat-eaters. A large pot of lentils (or beans), even when factoring a bunch of chard from a farmer’s market, is no more than $4, and will feed 4-6 people. This dish is inspired by the classic preparation of French Le Puy green lentils – customarily including bacon or salt pork and sausages. Le Puy lentils are not required for this vegetarian version, but they are highly recommended. Sausage can be an accompaniment for meat eaters, cooked either with the lentils or separately. Feta or goat cheese are an excellent way to top the lentils before serving.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 2 carrots (chopped)
- 1 celery stalk (chopped)
- 4 large garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 pound lentils (imported green lentils preferred) (wash and pick over 2 ¼ cups)
- A bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, Parmesan rind, 1-2 springs ea. of Thyme & Parsley)
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 bunch Swiss chard (3/4-1 pound) (stem, wash, chop coarsely)
- Parmesan (grated), goat cheese or feta (crumbled) for serving
- In a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over a med-high heat. Add onion, stir, and cook until softened, approx. 3-5 minutes. Add celery & carrot, stir, and cook until all vegetables are tender, approx. 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to stir & cook until fragrant, only 30-60 seconds. Add your lentils, 2-quarts water, and the bouquet garni. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer for roughly 40 minutes. Season with salt & pepper according to individual preferences, then remove the bouquet garni.
- As your lentils simmer, stir in the chard. Cook until lentils and greens are tender, another 10 minutes or so. The chard should be tender, but still bright. Taste, adjust seasoning if required, and serve. The cheese can be passed around at the table for sprinkling. Alternatively, transfer to an oiled baking dish, top with crumbled feta, goat cheese rounds or grated parmesan, and heat through a in a medium oven.
- Prepare in advance: The lentils through step 1 can be cooked in advance, and will keep refrigerated for 2-3 days. You can proceed with the recipe once lentils are brought back to a simmer. The completed dish will keep refrigerated for 2-3 days, but you’ll find the chard’s color will fade.