I could only find French Le Puy lentils in one store locally (and they were old enough to have a layer of dust on top of the bin), so I ordered them online (very reasonable) and two days later this recipe for Warm French Lentils from Ina Garten was in the works. Do we live in an amazing world today or what?
Now, if you don’t like lentils (all 14+ common types? really?) or Dijon mustard, this probably isn’t for you.
But if you do… oh boy, you’re going to love this.
French Le Puy green lentils are nothing like the regular green lentils easily available in nearly every grocery store. They are smaller, sturdier, almost nutty in flavor, and go stunningly well with dishes like pan-seared salmon or a white wine tarragon chicken. For example, that is.
I will confess, when I ordered the lentils online, I also took the opportunity to splurge and order some really good French Dijon mustard too. (See, I love mustard. Not everyone does, I get that, you do you.)
Anywho, I had this recipe bookmarked in my files (from the barefoot contessa how easy is that? cookbook) as a must try this someday and I only wish I’d done so earlier.
Thinly slice the leek and small dice the carrots. Into a pan over medium heat with a glug of oil and a good pinch of salt. Let those soften up a bit, 5-7 minutes depending on your stove’s version of medium heat.
Mince the garlic, into the pan, cook another minute while stirring.
Turn off the heat and set it aside.
Now, you could just put it in the bowl you’ll use to serve everything and reuse the same pan. The less dishes to wash the better, right? (Did I do that? No, of course not. Learn from me.)
Next up are the lentils. They are cooked separately and by themselves.
Give the lentils a good rinse first and make sure there’s no debris in there. There almost never is but better safe than sorry.
Cut the turnip in half.
Peel the onion and stud it with whole cloves around its middle. You want the cloves to be in the cooking water. I ended up flipping the onion upside-down after I took the photo.
Now you can see why I was so curious about this recipe! The clove-studded onion I’d actually seen done before, but not the turnip too. At least, not at the same time.
Into a pan with the lentils and about 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cook about 15-20 minutes or until tender but not mushy. (I feel like I say that phrase a lot.)
While that’s cooking away, make the vinaigrette.
Whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, and ground black pepper. Just keep at it until it comes together (emulsifies) and stays that way when you stop whisking.
Yes, it seems like a lot of salt and a lot of mustard. Trust me, it works. The lentils soak it right up.
When the lentils are done, drain them and discard the turnip and onion.
I like to use my rice & grains washing colander. (I like it because it’s small, has small holes, has a drain at the pour spout, and is easy to wash up.) A good-sized strainer would work too (but it’s more work to clean).
Then, everything into a bowl and gently mix. And that’s it. Serve it warm.
Oh, one more thing — and this is important.
At first, right when you mix it, taste it and make sure it’s seasoned the way you want it but be aware the vinaigrette needs a few minutes to absorb into the lentils. Right at first, I could only taste mustard and thought, uh-oh, I messed it up somehow. I came back five minutes later and it was perfect.
We’ll chalk it up to Ina Garten magic. It’s a thing.
Warm French Lentils
A recipe from the barefoot contessa how easy is that? cookbook. The mustard vinaigrette and a turnip makes it over the top delicious.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 leek, white and light green parts, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 carrots, scrubbed and 1/2 inch diced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 cup French Le Puy lentils
- 1 whole onion, peeled and stuck with 6 whole cloves
- 1 white turnip, cut in half
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil use the good stuff you've been saving for this recipe
- 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Thinly slice the white and light green part of the leek. Dice the carrot into small pieces. Mince the garlic.
In a pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil and cook the leek and carrots with a good pinch of salt for 5-7 minutes or until they're reasonably tender.
Add the garlic and cook another minute, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
Rinse the lentils and make sure they are free of any debris.
Slice the turnip in half.
Peel the onion and stud it with half-a-dozen cloves around its middle.
Put the onion, turnip, lentils, and about 4 cups of cold water in pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
Meanwhile, whisk together the 1/4 cup of oil, Dijon mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper until it stays well-combined.
Combine everything in a bowl and gently stir.
Wait a few minutes before serving for the lentils to absorb the vinaigrette.