This tasty, nutrient-rich lentil and sweet potato dish is easy to prepare and makes a satisfying meat-free meal. The pictured dish contained red lentils, but feel free to use what you have on hand. Cooking times can vary a bit depending on the variety, so check the time guide below the recipe if you use another kind.
For a heartier non-vegetarian dish, add some diced cooked ham to the pan with the onions or garnish the finished dish with cooked crumbled bacon. Or add diced smoked sausage, such as spicy andouille sausage or kielbasa. Diced carrots or butternut squash can be added instead of sweet potatoes.
The recipe calls for frozen chopped kale, but spinach, Swiss chard, or mixed greens are possible replacements. If you choose to use fresh greens, make sure you remove any thick stems before you chop the leaves. Add fresh chopped greens to the skillet with the onions, a handful at a time, adding more as the greens wilt.
- Peel the onion and chop it coarsely.
- Peel the sweet potato and cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch dice. You should have about 1 1/2 cups.
- Mince the garlic.
- Put the frozen kale in a colander and thaw under cold running water; squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onion and diced sweet potato to the pan and cook until the onion softens and appears translucent, or about 5 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer.
- Stir in the thawed and squeezed chopped kale, the lentils, bay leaf, thyme, cayenne pepper, and the vegetable broth or chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer the lentils for about 20 to 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes. The lentils should be tender but not mushy.
- Taste and add salt, as needed.
- Serve with a tossed salad or sliced fresh tomatoes and cucumbers for a satisfying, meat-free family lunch or dinner.
Cooking Times for Lentils
Unlike most dried beans and peas, there's no need to presoak lentils. However, different varieties of lentils require different cooking times. Here's a handy cooking guide:
- Brown Lentils: 30 to 40 minutes
- French Green Lentils (Puy): 30 to 40 minutes
- Red Lentils: 15 to 25 minutes
- Black Beluga Lentils: 20 to 25 minutes
- Yellow Lentils: 15 to 20 minutes