Warm French Lentils, a satisfying salad

by ck

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Lentils are possibly one of the most difficult food items to photograph in a pleasing way. No matter the quality of light, no matter how well they’re cooked– they always manage to look grey, and, well, a little unappetizing.  However, I love these lentils so much that nothing would dissuade me from archiving them here. After seeing Big Girls Small Kitchen post about lentils this morning (again, not the most appealing photographs she’s ever had on the site, but that didn’t stop me from wanting a bowl) I decided to bite the bullet and write about them anyway.

I made a big pot of these lentils a couple of weeks ago when the cooler weather necessitated something warm and filling.  I’m going to tuck this one into my back pocket until it’s needed again in the fall.

Recipe:

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
Add 1 small onion diced into tiny pieces and cook until translucent.
Add 3 cloves of garlic, sliced (I don’t mind coming across a piece of garlic, but crush it if you’d rather) and saute until toasted.
Add in 1 large carrot and 2 celery stalks, both finely diced. Cook 4-5 min.

As the vegetables cook, dice up some Canadian bacon (or regular bacon) and fry it in a separate small skillet. You want to get the pieces nice and crispy, as they won’t have a chance to brown again once they’re in the pot.

Add 1 c. french lentils (also called le puy green lentils) to the onion-carrot-celery-garlic mixture, then add the ham or bacon.
Add in 1/2 c. red wine, 2 1/2 c. water, 1/2 tsp salt, and a bay leaf if you have it.
Then (and this is key!) add an old Parmesan rind.
I got mine from the cheese shop down the street: they were kind enough to give it to me for free, but you can also purchase them at Whole Foods. As the lentils cook, the leftover cheese will start to release from the rind and imbue the whole mix with its delicious salty flavor.

Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
Check the lentils (they shouldn’t be ready yet) and mix in 1 1/2 tablespoons of dijon mustard, plus a little salt and pepper.
Cook for another 15 minutes or so until the lentils are cooked to your liking.

I like to eat these lentils with a big chunk of crusty sourdough bread.

 

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