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Warm Lentils with Vinaigrette

Warm Lentils with Vinaigrette
Most lentils sold in France are small, flat and green, with the tiny lentils of Le Puy the most prized variety. The rustic legumes are prepared in a variety of ways: tossed while still warm with a mustard-flavored vinaigrette, dressed with truffle shavings for serving alongside duck or grilled salmon, or combined with onion and other aromatics for a cold-weather soup. Or, they might be fashioned into a full meal by simmering them with sausages, such as saucisses de Toulouse, petit salé (lightly cured pork), rabbit or partridge.

These lentils are delicious served warm with duck confit or roasted pork tenderloin (see related recipes at left).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Puy lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1⁄2 cup dry white wine
  • 1⁄2 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1⁄2 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 or 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar, or to taste

Directions:

Pick over the lentils and discard any misshapen lentils and stones. Rinse well and place in a saucepan with the water, wine, carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme, half of the shallots and half of the garlic. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the lentils are just tender but not mushy and have absorbed most of the liquid, 30 to 35 minutes.

Drain the lentils, reserving 2 Tbs. of the cooking liquid; discard the remaining liquid. Place the lentils and the reserved cooking liquid in a serving bowl. Add the remaining shallots and garlic and the parsley to the hot lentils and stir to mix. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, Paris, by Marlena Spieler (Oxmoor House, 2004).