Quick Fix: Collards, Carrots and French Green Lentils

by | Apr 24, 2009
Collards, Carrots and Lentils

Collards, Carrots and Lentils

Last week I wrote about the perfect balanced meal and featured a picture of my dinner the previous night: collard greens, carrots and French green lentils. Since then I have had more than a few requests for the recipe and am happy to provide an encore to the How To Get Started Eating Healthy book.

Lentils are incredibly nutritious and easier to cook than dried beans. They also have the third highest protein content of any plant. A single serving of lentils contains 18 g of protein, 63% of your daily fiber and 37% of your iron in only 230 calories!

That’s more iron than 1,123 calories of prime rib. Remember when I said every plant could be considered a superfood? Well, lentils are no exception.

Lentils and other legumes are also great for weight loss and are a fabulous alternative to grains for individuals who are insulin resistant or diabetic, since they have minimal impact on blood sugar.

For a pan cooked dish, you want lentils that are fairly robust and maintain their shape after cooking. I prefer French green lentils, but standard brown lentils also hold up pretty well. Simply boil them in excess water with a pinch of salt for 20 minutes or so until tender (do not overcook). Strain, then toss them in with your vegetables at the end of cooking just to coat with flavor and heat through. Lentils freeze well, but can be kept fresh in the refrigerator 3-5 days.

In this recipe, kale or chard can easily substitute for the collards. If you want to use spinach, add it last after the lentils. Fold it in and allow it to wilt into the dish.

Collards, Carrots and French Green Lentils


  • 4-5 collard leaves
  • 4-5 medium carrots
  • 1/2 cup French green lentils, cooked
  • 1 small leek
  • 1 clove garlic
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • lemon juice (optional)
  • chopped parsley (optional)

If you are making your lentils from scratch, quickly pick through them for pebbles, give them a rinse then boil them in excess water with a pinch of salt for 20-30 minutes, until tender. Even though I rarely consume more than half cup (cooked) in one sitting, I usually like to cook up at least one cup dry (at least 4 servings) and save the rest for later. Start them boiling as soon as you step into the kitchen and start cooking your vegetables at least 15 minutes after you turn them on.

In the mean time clean and chop your leek and mince your garlic. Peel and slice your carrots at a sharp angle to maximize the surface area for cooking. Clean your collard leafs, chop off the stems then stack them on top of each other in a pile. Cut into one inch squares, removing any sections that have thick pieces of stem.

Heat a pan on medium heat, then add olive oil. When the oil swirls easily in the pan, add the leeks and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes, until the pieces break up and become tender and translucent. Add carrots and stir. Cook 2 minutes, then add collards. Sprinkle with sea salt and continue to cook, stirring occasionally.

Be careful with your heat when pan frying collard greens–don’t let it get too high. The leaves easily trap steam from cooking, and I had a few jump out of my pan onto the floor. They make a loud popping sound too, which is very exciting. If it makes you feel safer, you can cover the greens for the first minute or two while they soften.

Shortly after the collards turn bright green from cooking (4-5 minutes), clear a space in the center of the pan and add your minced garlic in a single layer (you can add a touch more oil if necessary). Let garlic cook 30 seconds or so until fragrant, then add the lentils and mix with the other vegetables. A squeeze of lemon juice, zest or a dash of vinegar is a good addition here, if you like. A sprinkle of your favorite herb, e.g. Italian parsley, basil or thyme, adds depth and complexity if you have them around.

Continue cooking 3-4 more minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. If you are using cold lentils, cook until warm. Adjust salt and serve.

This dish is wonderful as a main course, by itself or with brown rice. It can easily be scaled to accommodate a large crowd if you have a big enough pan.

What flavors do you love to pair with lentils?

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27 Responses to “Quick Fix: Collards, Carrots and French Green Lentils”

  1. Karin says:

    Thanks for posting this recipe, it looks amazing! And after all the health benefits how could we not want to try this =)

  2. nolan says:

    i am totally going to eat this.

  3. dsennerud says:

    For whatever reason, I would not normally picture these ingredients together, but I am interested in trying it. Thanks for posting such interesting recipes!

    • Darya Pino says:

      My pleasure! I get a lot of ideas from my favorite restaurants. I had a similar dish at a place in San Francisco called Pomelo. It is not a super fancy place, but all their stuff is fresh, good and relatively healthy.

  4. Mike says:

    Lentils are awesome!!! I just tried them-I can’t believe how good they are, and so healthy. I wish I didn’t have to boil them for so long though; if I made a bunch at one time, like your rice recipe, would it keep well?

    • Darya Pino says:

      Glad to hear it! Yes, I always make big batches and freeze half in a tupper. I tend to make a few different lentil recipes in a week then do something different for protein the next week. Then when I’m ready for lentils again I take out what I froze and eat it for another few days.

  5. patty, GH says:

    great recipe, thanks for sharing with us. just make sure to Go Organic.
    visit GH for other ideas!!

  6. Oh my gosh this looks delicious!!!

  7. Kevin says:

    That is a nice looking salad! I like using lentils in salads like this.

  8. Chefjen says:

    Great recipe Darya. I made it for your cousin and he couldn’t get enough! He even ate it cold the next day!

  9. Jill says:

    So the picture above really inspired me and I made something similar with some leftover organic beluga lentils that I had cooked, rinsed, drained and frozen. I roasted some cubed sweet potato, sauteed some curly kale with a little bit of garlic and tossed that with the lentils (which I had reheated by spreading them on a pan and letting them warm up in the oven). It was fabulous and even my very selective, foodie mother loved it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Linda says:

    I am definitely going to try this. I love the simplicity of the recipe too. Simple is usually always better.

  11. This is such a beautiful and amazing recipe that I wanted to share it on my blog! Congratulations and happy cooking!
    xxoo Tasha -The Clean Eating Mama

  12. Christie says:

    I’ve never tried collard greens before, but I noticed you mentioned them in a recent post, so I decided to search your site for a recipe you’ve used them in. I got some in my farm box recently, and I have no clue what to do with them! Thanks for providing me with a non-traditional recipe to try! I’ll post my thoughts on it after I make it tomorrow 🙂

  13. Jill says:

    This recipe is excellent! I’ve made it three times. It makes collards tolerable. I use orange zest, juice from the orange, and dill (omitting the parsley). Perfection!

  14. Alex says:

    Hey Darya, I stumbled upon your website when I was searching for good lentil recipes. My husband and I tried this recipe and thought it was delicious! So simple to make and the flavors were great. I did find that it was a bit dry though. Is that just the nature of the recipe? Or did I possibly cook it too long at the end? I had used lentils that were made 2 days prior. Thanks for any suggestions you might have!

  15. Louise says:

    I made my family so very happy on Sunday night when I cooked this delightfully light, but hearty dish. My husband went back for seconds and even my two-year-old loved it! Thank you so much for this healthy recipe!

  16. lotus says:

    I just made this meal! It turned out great. I used red chard instead of collard greens and added some curry and garlic powder to it. I used a cup of lentils and let them cooked in excess water for 20 minutes. I think I may have overcooked the lentils a bit because they turned into somewhat of a mush and were slightly on the dry side (still good though!) Thanks for the recipe! Can’t wait to try more from you 🙂

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