This might be my very favorite recipe using chard. It’s a variation on one from my very favorite cookbook author–Deborah Madison–from The Greens Cookbook.
French green lentils are the little dark ones that hold their shape well; as opposed to the larger brown ones I grew up with, made into lentil ham soup from the leftover ham bone. To further differentiate, there is an elegant specialty appellation-controlled French green lentil called Lentilles de Puy that makes it onto menus of high end restaurants as “lentil caviar.”
8 ounces soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles)
1/2 cup French green lentils
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
1 bunch red or green chard
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots cut into 1/4-inch squares
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
5 ounces goat cheese, optional
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Rinse the lentils, checking them over for little rocks masquerading as lentils. Put them in another pot with water to cover plus 2 inches, along with the bay leaf and salt. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes at Park City altitude. Drain them, saving the liquid for stock. Toss the lentils with a tablespoon of the oil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and set aside.
Wash the chard well. Cut the leaves away from the stems. Cut the stems in 1/4-inch pieces and set aside, and then chop the leaves into 1-inch strips.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet on low heat. Cook the garlic about a minute. Add the carrots and the chard stems and cook over medium heat another minute. Season with salt; add the veggie stock, the chard, and the lentils. Cook until the carrots are tender.
Cook the noodles in the boiling water until they are just tender. Drain and add them to the chard. Toss with the parsley and more freshly ground pepper. If you are using the goat cheese, crumble it into the pasta and vegetables at the very last minute.
Makes 2 to 4 servings.