Eggs and I have a hot-and-cold relationship. Some months I can't stand them and then, suddenly, I find myself in a phase where I find them deeply satisfying. Maybe it's the chilly weather or the desire for simple, inexpensive meals, but this is one of those "put an egg on it" moments when I'm inclined to top any lunch or dinner with some sunny protein, especially when that meal involves braised lentils and silky ribbons of chard.
An egg can make a complete meal out of many dishes but one of the best combinations, I think, is eggs with lentils and greens. Here I've braised lentils and chard with aromatics and herbs, and then rounded off the dish with a yolky fried or poached egg. It's earthy and comforting in that way that sometimes only the simplest dishes can be.
So many recipes call for cutting out and discarding the chard stems. In this one, you get to use the whole leaf by dicing the stems and softening them with the onions and carrots in a sort of mirepoix. I originally tried this as a more economical alternative to buying a bunch of celery, and it turned out quite delicious. Rainbow chard is especially pretty, but you can use any variety of chard or even other hearty greens.
Braised Lentils and Chard Topped with an Egg
1/2 pound chard (about 1/2 bunch) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 cup diced yellow onion 1/2 cup diced carrot 1 cup dried green or brown lentils, rinsed 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed 1 bay leaf 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh) 2 cups water 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or to taste Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 3-4 eggs 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
Cut the center stems from the chard and dice them the same size as the onions and carrots. Cut the chard leaves into strips and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked but slightly al dente. (If necessary, add more water, a little at a time, to make sure the lentils are just barely covered.)
Remove and discard the bay leaf (and garlic, if desired). Add the chard leaves, cover the pan, and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the chard leaves are wilted. Season the lentils with vinegar, salt, and pepper.