Herbed Lentil Skillet with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Ricotta

You can have this meal on the table in less time than it takes for me to run a mile. Okay, I admit I am the slowest runner I know (I am more of a jogger, really) -- but still, that is a fast dinner. The key is taking advantage of canned lentils for a tender and hearty instant protein, as well as vegetables that require very little prep -- pre-washed baby spinach and grape tomatoes. They are seasoned in the skillet with chopped shallot, fresh thyme, and balsamic vinegar, then dolloped with creamy, rich ricotta cheese that is warmed slightly in the skillet, too. A sprinkle of fresh basil leaves takes you, deliciously, to the finish line for the win. I like to serve mine with some whole-grain, sourdough toast or baguette.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 25 min
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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2 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup chopped shallot

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 3/4 teaspoon dried

2 (15.5-ounce) cans lentils, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)

1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

6 large fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons


  1. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until they have softened, about 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Stir in the thyme, then add the lentils, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper, and stir just enough to combine. Add the tomatoes and spinach, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through and the vegetables have wilted, 5 minutes.
  2. Make a well in the lentil mixture and dollop 1/4 cup of the ricotta cheese into it. Repeat with the remaining ricotta, creating separate wells. Cover and cook until the cheese is slightly warmed but not melted, 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve.
  3. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Cook’s Note

Serving size: 1 cup lentil mixture and 1/4 cup ricotta cheese

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