The Legume-Bitter Green Axis
It should be well-known that stewed dried legumes and sturdy, bitter greens, like dandelions and escarole, combine alchemically to produce extraordinarily satisfying and delicious results.
A few combos that work reliably are fava and chicory (fava e cicoria), white beans with radicchio, and green lentils with escarole. To me, these are like meat dishes for vegetarians.
After scoring an abundant and gorgeous head of chicory from J.Glebocki farms at the Inwood green market this past Saturday, I decided to try cooking it with a novel pulse.
This use of the word pulse is not so common in the US. It refers to leguminous plants that have pods containing several seeds and that are meant to be used dried. You can read all about that here.
A particular favorite of mine is the red lentil. It cooks quickly and mostly falls apart, but the texture is never pasty and there is still a vaguely retained lentil shape at the end.
I cooked a couple of cups of red lentils in an equal amount of water, which you will adjust by adding more as it is absorbed during the cooking process. To this I added some chopped onion that I had browned in olive oil.
When the lentils were cooked to my liking- in about 10-15 minutes, I added the washed chicory, which I had chopped into 4-5 inch lengths. I continued cooking over a medium flame until the chicory reached the desired tenderness.
I added sea salt and a generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper. You can see the result above.
It was terrific!