The key here is to be patient with the onions. Onions take a long time to caramelize properly. I'll admit it, I got a little impatient and didn't brown them as much as I should have, so they still had a bit of a bite to them. But if you cook them low and slow, and let them get brown and sweet, this dish will be utterly transcendental.
If you're not sure whether you're a lentil fan, this is a great way to try them out, as they have a supporting role here. Give it a go.
Pasta with Lentils and Kale
adapted from Gourmet Today
1/4 cup small green or brown lentils
1 cup water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
1/2 large onion, chopped
leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
1 bunch of kale, stems and tough ribs removed
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound whole wheat corkscrew or elbow pasta
1. Combine lentils, water, and pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add onions and thyme with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until onions are golden and tender. Remove cover and cook for another 10 minutes, or until onions are golden brown.
3. When you have uncovered the onions, bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the kale and cook just for 2-3 minutes, until slightly wilted. Scoop the kale out of the pot but leave the boiling water on the stove. Place the kale in a colander and squeeze out excess water. Chop it up and add to the lentils.
4. Cook pasta in the kale cooking water until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water before draining. Add kale, lentils (and their cooking liquid), and pasta with reserved cooking water to the onions. Stir everything together and heat through. Serve.