It's springtime in Alaska. A wondrous time of year, full of piles of brown snow on the sides of the highways, potholes the size of craters ready to take a bite out of your car's undercarriage, and windshields full of rock chips from the copious amounts of gravel on road ways that have yet to be swept up and re-deposited for storage in anticipation of next year's snowfall. Ah, a magical time of year indeed.
Springtime in Alaska is my least favorite time of the year. Which is why I'm getting the hell out of Dodge to a sunny destination.
Until then, I will endure the final stages of winter with the rest of my neighbors who are anxiously awaiting that first flicker of green on the trees. All the while knowing full well that Mother Nature's wicked sense of humor likely means at least one more dumping of snow before the end of May.
I've been keeping my Alaskan Springtime blues at bay by cooking up a storm in my kitchen! Short ribs, pasta, spring salads, soups...anything to keep the dreary brown grass on my lawn out of sight and out of mind. Summer can't come soon enough!
I devoured this lovely little lentil salad soon after I took these pictures. Perfectly light and healthy, yet hearty enough to fill me up, this dish makes a great weeknight meal after a busy day at work. Even better, the leftovers hold up well for lunch the next day. Which is exactly what I did with them.
Lentils with Kale, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts
(Adapted from Laura Calder)
1 cup French green (du Puy) lentils
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh thyme, or a pinch of dried
2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil
2 large shallots, diced (or one medium red onion, diced)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups kale, roughly chopped
splash of balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
scant 1 cup of walnuts
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
(1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place walnuts on a sheet tray and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden and toasted. Do not burn! Once they cool, roughly chop into large pieces.
(2) Put the lentils in a saucepan with 1 1/3 cups of water, the bay leaf, and thyme sprig. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 25-30 minutes. If the liquid is not all absorbed, just drain off any excess.
(3) Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan or dutch oven. Saute the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about a minute, then add the kale and cook until it has wilted a bit, about 2-4 minutes. Add a little more olive oil if necessary to soften the kale. Season with kosher salt and several grinds of fresh ground pepper.
(4) Deglaze the pan with a healthy splash of balsamic vinegar, and stir to incorporate. Add the cooked lentils, taste and reseason with more salt and pepper, if necessary (I found mine needed quite a bit! Lentils are pretty bland otherwise). Add more balsamic vinegar if you like that sweet acidic roundness like I do.
(5) Place the lentil mixture in a large serving dish, and top with the crumbled goat cheese and chopped walnuts. Drizzle with a little more olive oil if you like (I enjoyed the way it made the final dish glisten a bit). Serve warm.