Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lacinto Kale with Lentils and Pasta by Lucy Burdette

Like my new character Hayley Snow, I enjoy nothing better than a good chocolate cake, fried chicken, or macaroni and cheese. Or maybe pot roast with gravy and mashed potatoes and creamed spinach...or fried shrimp with key lime pie as dessert...

But we can't eat like that all the time, so I look for recipes that are heart and weight-healthy--and easy to whip up on the days I'm busy writing. Or days when Hayley is busy sleuthing...

She also has the disadvantage of living on an island where fresh produce is not so easy to find--and organic stuff, even harder. Luckily, there's a mini-farmer's market on Mondays at a little place called Help Yourself Foods, where we found the lacinto kale (less bitter than other varieties, to my mind.) And there's a neat little health food store, where we located the French green lentils.

(This recipe is adapted from the original at

Lacinto Kale with Lentils and Pasta

1 32 oz. box natural beef broth

1/2 cup French green lentils

1 large onion, chopped

1 bunch lacinto kale, washed and chopped

1 cup alphabet pasta (or other of your choice)

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Saute the onions in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat until carmelized (nicely browned--15 to 20 minutes.) Don't skimp on this step as the onions give a lot of flavor to the dish!

While the onions are cooking, wash and sort the lentils and then simmer them until soft in the beef broth, about 25 minutes. Add the onions and bring to simmer again. Then add the pasta and the chopped kale. Simmer six minutes or so until everything is tender. This should be the consistency of a thick soup--add water or broth if needed.

Serve in soup bowls with lots of grated cheese and a dash of Tabasco sauce, if desired. You could make a salad and serve with bread too--but everything is really there in one pot!

This may sound too healthy and plain, but believe me, my husband and I fight over the leftovers for lunch the next day--if there are any!

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries, including AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. You can follow her on facebook or twitter. She eats and writes in Connecticut and Key West.


  1. Wonderful recipe, Lucy. I grew up eating kale from my pop's garden (my beloved late aunt used it in her Italian wedding soup) and I will make good use of this recipe. Thanks also for the tip on lacinto kale. This is new to me and sounds delicious. I'll be looking for it!

    Have a lovely weekend,
    ~ Cleo

  2. Hey Lucy, I just noticed you on MLK. Think this is my first post of yours I have read. Love the idea of an island series (especially as we dropped below zero today). And now all vacations to Key West are tax deductible for you.

    Being an author ROCKS!

    Kale has become a new favorite of mine. I try to make some of the crunchy chips once a week so I have something to snack on. This (for me) lunch sounds perfect! Saving this recipe!


  3. Italian wedding soup sounds delicious Cleo--doesn't that have little meatballs in it?

    Dave, so glad you noticed me!! Yes, being an author rocks.

  4. We love Lacinto kale. It's softer than regular kale and so good! It's in my health food store again, so I'm guessing this might be the season for it -- somewhere. Love the recipe, Lucy, I never thought about mixing it with lentils.

    ~ Krista

  5. Krista, i know it was in season recently in north Florida as I saw a ton of it in my sister's community garden. They eat it like candy:)

  6. Hi Lucy!
    The family is trying to eat much healthier this year after a few health scares so this recipe is right up our alley!! Wish I would have seen it sooner...we could have had it for dinner tonight. I'll brave the cold tomorrow and see if we have lacinto kale here in Mittenland...
    THanks again,

  7. Hope you enjoy it Nanc--where in the world is Mittenland??