December 6, 2012

Warm French Lentils

Holiday season is fast approaching. I don't know what that means in your house. But in mine, it means lots of cookies and other treats. I've already got boxes of chocolate stars and almond snowmen from Trader Joe's on my counter. And soon I'll start baking up some cookies of my own.

But for now, before the cookie onslaught really begins, I'm trying to be healthy. Lots of lean protein and veggies. And while I'm not cutting out carbs altogether, I'm trying to eat more beans and lentils (protein and fiber!) and less pasta and bread.

French green lentils
This warm French lentil salad is a very tasty and filling side dish. It's made with French green lentils (they're also called du Puy lentils). They sound fancy but they're just lentils and you can find them in the grocery store. They get tender when you cook them, but not mushy. I've used them before, in a lentil soup, but I hadn't tried them in a salad.

The lentils get some flavor from the onion, leeks, carrots and cloves they cook with. But the real flavor comes from the simple but intense vinaigrette that you toss with the lentils after they're cooked.

I served this warm, as a side with salmon. Next time I plan to make extra and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Pierce cloves into a peeled onion.

Bring the onion and lentils to boil with water.

Simmer until the lentils are tender.

In a separate pan, saute the leeks, carrots and garlic in olive oil.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the vinaigrette. Combine the olive oil, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small jar.

Whisk or shake until the vinaigrette is well combined.

Drain the cooked lentils and place them in a large bowl. Mix in the butter.

Add the leek and carrot mixture.

Toss with the vinaigrette.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Warm French Lentils

2 Tbsp plus 1/4 cup good olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 carrots, scrubbed and 1/2-inch-diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup French green du Puy lentils
1 whole onion, peeled and stuck with 6 whole cloves
1 white turnip, cut in half (I left this out)
1 tsp unsalted butter
4 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1.    Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saute pan, add the leek and carrots, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute and set aside.

2.    Meanwhile, place the lentils, 4 cups of water, the onion with the cloves, and the turnip in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are almost tender.

3.    Remove and discard the onion and turnip and drain the lentils. Place them in a medium bowl with the leek and carrots, and add the butter.

4.    Meanwhile, whisk together the 1/4 cup of olive oil, the mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add to the lentils, stir well, and allow the lentils to cool until just warm, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Serves 4 to 6


  1. Just made this - SOOOO good!! I did halve the salt in the dressing recipe though -- 1 tbsp seemed like a lot to me, and it was fine with only 1/2 tbsp (to my taste, anyway). Also I used sea salt -- maybe that's saltier than kosher? Also didn't see the note about the turnip until after I had bought one, so threw it in. Don't know what difference it made, but next time I will try without it.

    1. You're right -- the salt in this recipe is very much to taste. But you might be surprised. Even with 1 tablespoon, the lentils weren't at all salty, just flavorful.

  2. Hey - so I can't stop obsessing about this recipe. Latest serving suggestion: piled on endive leaves for a 1/2-bite appetizer, or on baguette slices with a little goat cheese. This has become my total go-to!


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