Tuesday, March 29, 2011
French Style Lentils
It seems like lentils get a bad rap. They have some sort of reputation as bland and something to be forced down (like only someone as mild as "pigeon and oatmeal loving" Bert from Sesame Street would sing the praises of lentils). Well, I'm here to dispel that myth. Lentils are delicious, healthy, economical and can have a real earthy, French Peasant flair to them--especially when prepared in this manner. Inspired by a dish from the Barefoot Contessa (which was inspired by her favorite Bistro in Paris), the use of a mustard-y vinaigrette stirred into the lentils makes for something really spectacular. Serve as a side, main course in bowls or alongside some chicken sausages and pretend you're enjoying them in the French countryside.
French Style Lentils
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 leek, white and light green parts, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 carrots, peeled and 1/2-inch diced
1 parsnip, peeled and 1/2-inch diced (optional)
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup green lentils
4 cups water (or chicken stock)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 whole onion, peeled
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large dutch oven/soup pot. Add the leek, carrots, parsnips (if using) and celery and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, set aside.
Remove the vegetables from the pot and set aside. In the same pot, combine, lentils, 4 cups of water or stock, thyme and onion and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add the reserved vegetables and simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are almost tender. Remove from heat and discard the onion (you can also drain off the liquid if you prefer your lentils as more of a side dish and less "soupy"). Stir in the butter. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the mustard, vinegar and salt and pepper. Add to the lentils, stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste. The longer the lentils sit, the more salt and pepper you'll want to add.
Roughly adapted from "Barefoot Contessa's How Easy is That?"