Warm beluga lentils with roasted leek tops and kale

Writing this book forced me out of my comfort zone in many regards. Before testing this recipe, I had never attempted to cook with the tough leek tops. I always composted them and stuck with the tender base. In the spirit of zero-waste cooking, I experimented with different ways of cooking leek tops before settling on this recipe. Briefly blanching softens them a bit, and roasting further tenderizes them and deepens their flavor. This process turns them pale green, so I mixed them with kale for a nicer presentation. This is a fairly involved recipe, so I wouldn’t be mad if you used store-bought hot pepper vinegar in lieu of making it from scratch.


Roasted vegetables

1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Dark green tops and light green outer leaves from 2 leeks, scrubbed and sliced on an angle into ½-inch-thick strips (about 6 cups)

4 ounces lacinato kale, rinsed, stemmed, halved crosswise, and sliced into long strips

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ small yellow onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

Leaves from 2 thyme sprigs, minced

1 cup black beluga lentils, picked over and rinsed

1½ cups tomato puree

1 cup vegetable stock

¼ cup Cashew Cream

3 tablespoons Sweet Hot Pepper Vinegar , plus more as needed

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Sun-dried tomato broth

2 sun-dried tomato halves, or 2 tablespoons packed julienned sun-dried tomatoes

Boiling water

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

10 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 (1-inch) thyme sprigs

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons Sweet Hot Pepper Vinegar

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Roast the leeks and kale: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season with 1 tablespoon of the salt. Gently drop the leeks into the water. Bring back to a boil and cook until the leeks are just starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the kale and boil for 30 seconds. Drain the vegetables in a colander. Lay a clean kitchen towel on a work surface, spread the vegetables over it, and gently pat dry. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl.

Add the olive oil and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and use your hands to evenly coat the vegetables with the oil. Divide them between two rimmed baking sheets and roast until crisp, about 30 minutes. Be sure to stir the vegetables every 10 minutes, then shake the pans to even them out before returning the pans to the oven.

Make the lentils: While the vegetables are roasting, in a medium saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook until aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the lentils, stir to coat in the oil, then pour in the tomato puree and the stock.

Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat. Scoop out 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid and set aside for the broth. Stir in the cashew cream and the vinegar. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

Make the broth: Put the sun-dried tomatoes in a small heatproof bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let soak while you cook the garlic.

In a medium skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Strain the garlic oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl; set the oil aside. Discard the thyme and set aside the garlic chips for garnish.

Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and transfer to a blender. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, reserved 2 tablespoons lentil cooking liquid, and the salt and process until smooth. With the blender running, slowly pour in the garlic oil through the hole in the lid and blend until emulsified.

To serve, divide the warm lentils among individual bowls. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of the broth and top with the roasted vegetables. Garnish with the garlic chips and a few turns of black pepper. Serve warm.

Juicing ginger

Grilled spring onions with lemon-thyme oil