French Lentils

January 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Adapted from a Serious Eats recipe, this side dish or salad is a nice introduction to lentils. French lentils, or Lentils du Puy, are not as cheap as their more common green and red counterparts but they hold their shape better, and are served almost al dente, so there’s less pulse fatigue.

When cooked according to the first set of instructions below, the lentils make an excellent (and healthy) side dish for fish, or perhaps lamb, but the next day I like to turn them into a salad with soft feta, red onion, baby spinach and some extra dressing.

3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 ⅓ cup french lentils
3 stems of thyme
1 bay leaf (dried or fresh)
⅓ cup white wine
2 cups of water (or vegetable stock if you have it)
3 tablespoons of roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the salad:
100 – 150 grams of soft feta (the cheaper danish feta sold at supermarkets is fine)
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon grainy mustard

Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, and celery, all of which should be chopped to around the same size, about that of a pea. Add the thyme leaves and the bay leaf. Saute until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils. Put heat up high and add the white wine, stir until the wine is absorbed. Add the two cups of water or stock and keep temperature high until boiling. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and simmer with the lid on for about 35 minutes. Test the lentils to see if they are cooked. They should still have a bit of bite to them. Once cooked, pour off excess liquid, remove the bay leaf, and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped parsley, stir, and serve.

For the salad:
Transfer cooled lentils to a bowl, stir through the crumbled feta, red onion and baby spinach. In a jar, shake together the olive oil, red wine vinegar and grainy mustard, and pour over the lentils. Add more salt and pepper if desired.

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