Saturday, October 9, 2010

Spiced Lentils and Collard Greens

Another recipe from Winter Harvest:  I have a lot of collards this year, and I've been using them in all sorts of ways. This one is an East African combination familiar to fans of Ethiopian restaurants. The blend of strongly flavored greens, mellow lentils and hot spices makes a feast out of plain materials, and a dab of yogurt or cottage cheese adds a cool counterpoint, rather like the Indian curry/raita pairing. Despite their association with tropical cuisines, hot peppers are more reliable producers in cool summers than are most sweet varieties. Their smaller size and thinner flesh require less sun and heat to develop. My friend Mary Jean preserves her hot peppers from the garden by removing the seeds and freezing them on trays. They stay in freezer bags until needed for cooked recipes and they retain their fresh taste although not their crisp texture.

2 tablespoons canola oil, butter, or niter kibbeh (an Ethiopian spiced butter)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger root
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 fresh or frozen hot green chilies
1 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
½ pound trimmed collard greens, shredded or chopped (about 3 cups)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper

Heat oil or butter in a large heavy saucepan or skillet. Sauté onion, ginger, garlic, and chilies over medium heat until the vegetables soften, maybe 5 minutes. Add lentils, water, and collards. Bring to a simmer, and then cook over low to moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Lentils should be tender but not dissolved into mush and the whole mixture should be more like porridge than soup. Stir in cardamom, salt and pepper. Add hot sauce or sprinkle with cayenne if you like it hotter.
Pass yogurt on the side.
Vegetarian, gluten-free

To check out a collards discussion by folks who really care, eg, Southerners, go to  

The new Winter Harvest should be off the press next week! At that point in a book project, when it's too late to make changes, anticipation always turns to fear that some glitch got through that will frustrate any cooks who use it.  But right now I'm very excited to see it between covers. New Society has done a beautiful job with the design, and Celeste Henriquez's vegetable drawings are exquisite. I'm really glad they will be getting another viewing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm so very happy to see you happy.