Every time I cross 6th Avenue on Twenty Third Street I look north through the canyon. Every building perfectly aligns to its neighbor, blurring the seams that separate each building from the next. There is no focal point, no horizon, only a wide-open road and a piece of sky. Amongst the craziness that makes up this city, I love this bit. Looking up sixth avenue has become the after-work ritual that gives me a fleck of hope, a glimpse of clarity through the haze, if only for an instance. I like it because it makes everything feel structured and simple, it gives the city, the day, and life, backbone. It makes this crazy city-life feel wild and beautiful, messy and just perfect.
I am not sure where I am going with this other than I am nobody without these silly little rituals. No matter how temporal, they seem to be the only means for holding tight during both moments of euphoria and despair. They hold everything together, even when they sometimes feel like scotch tape and rubber bands. Life is hardly ever predictable, but at least I got my canyon amidst the chaos, muscles that keep me strong, fire to cook with, and wine to wash it all away.
Just like waking up to go to spin class, or making sure I have a hot cup of coffee at hand when I walk into the office, cooking a meal at the end of the day has been the ritual I hold on to the most, no matter the zip code, time of year, or state of mind. In order to keep this tradition alive, it is important to have super simple recipes in our back pockets, just in case days get crazy. This is the kind of recipe that gives a backbone to the week; it holds strong during both easy days and hard days. The kind that is hearty and filling, yet light and uplifting.
This Lentils and Greens recipe comes together effortlessly. Hearty greens are cooked until just wilted, bright green, and tender. You could use whatever green you prefer. Kale, spinach, collard and chard work great, but I like tatsoi, because, similar to bok choy, it hearty enough to hold up to the heat without holding on to a bitter aftertaste. Once cooked, these serve as a base to lentils tossed in a hot skillet with miso paste, olive oil, and garlic. The combination of grassy greens and hearty lentils, make for a perfect, weeknight dinner: salty, umami-rich, and hearty, yet delicate and light.
Just like that canyon, this recipe will inspire you to savor the moment, if just for a few minutes. It will inspire you to just stay put, hold on through it, and keep on walking.
Lentils and Greens
Cook time 30 minutes
- ½ cup French beluga lentils
- pinch of salt
- 1 large bunch tatsoi, spinach, kale, swiss chard or green of choice
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more to taste for platting
- 1 tbsp. miso paste
- small handful of chives of chive flowers as garnish, optional
Place lentils in a small pot with enough water to fully cover them by a couple inches. Add a pinch of salt. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until al dente. Using a sieve, drain lentils. Set aside.
If using tatsoi, release leaves from bottom knot by cutting where all the leaves meet. Wash greens under running water. Place a skillet over high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and a clove of garlic. Toss the tatsoi into the skillet once hot. Toss until most of the greens have been wilted but still bright green. Remove from the skillet. Set aside.
By this time, the lentils should be ready. Drain lentils through a sieve and transfer onto skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil, one garlic clove, and miso paste. Using a wooden spoon gently toss for a couple of minutes until ingredients are well incorporated. Add a few tablespoons of water if lentils get dry.
To serve, place greens on a platter. Scoop lentils onto greens, and garnish with either chives or chive flowers if using. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over the top and serve immediately.