Last week, as I was digging into my lunch and reading through some interesting links I’ve opened earlier in my browser, I happened upon a Prevention Magazine story about Superfoods for 2014.
Every year, different nutritionists and groups like to share what they believe will be the hottest healthy foods of the year. In the past, that’s included everything from chia seeds, goji berries and other unusual items that are said to have super nutrition benefits. But this 2014 Superfoods list was filled with mostly familiar (or semi-familiar foods), so I really took notice.
I mean some of those items from past lists — blech. I am all for healthy foods, but not at the expense of flavor and texture. I loved that this list was filled with foods I might actually eat.
And then I got to the third slide, and had to smile. On it was a picture of beluga lentils, aka black lentils — the same lentils I was eating at that very moment. It was one of those “oh, hey!” moments where you realize that the tasty balsamic-laced dish you made is actually totally, wildly on-trend. And healthy too. Score.
I wish I could say I planned it that way, but I really just wanted to enjoy some lentils. I’d picked up a bag of black lentils the last time I was at Whole Foods, wanting to try them. I generally opt for red lentils because I like their texture. But when I cooked the black ones, I was pleased to find that they really maintain their shape during the cooking process.
If you haven’t tried them, I highly recommend it. According to Prevention, they are a step above all the rest because of their color. “Black anthocyanins in these little beads have been found in other foods to be tops in fighting inflammation, cancer and heart disease,” says author Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, LD in the Prevention article.
This dish combines the black lentils with another super healthy food: Kale! I prefer dinosaur kale (so-called because of its scaly leaves) but you could use whatever kale you love in it. Sweet sauteed onions, a little garlic and a hearty dose of balsamic flavor flavor this dish that’s dotted with bits of crisp sweet bell peppers and crumbles of salty feta cheese.
You can eat this alone, hot off the stove, or pile it onto a bed of rice. It’s also delicious served chilled.
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 bunch dinosaur kale, rinsed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar, divided
- 1 sweet bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup black lentils, prepared according to package directions
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Heat the olive oil in 12-inch sauté pan with a lid (leave it uncovered for now). Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden – about 10 minutes.
- While the onion is cooking, remove the kale leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Roughly chop the leaves into bite-size pieces.
- Once the onion is cooked, add the kale and garlic to the sauté pan and cover. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the kale is wilted – about five minutes. Drizzle with 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar and stir vigorously to combine.
- Add the sweet bell pepper and lentils to the pan and stir well. Season with salt and pepper, as desired, and drizzle with the remaining balsamic vinegar. Stir well. Sprinkle with feta cheese and vigorously stir to combine. Taste, and add more balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, as desired.
- Remove from heat and enjoy. This dish can be served warm over rice or alone. It’s also delicious served cold.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.