There's a little Mediterranean market here in town that I love to shop at when I'm in the area. It's called Nabeel's International Market, and I love perusing their shelves for little treasures to experiment with in the kitchen. As you enter the front doors, your senses are greeted by an array of fresh cheeses and olives that will immediately make you hungry and the store shelves are packed with things like Chinese pine nuts, assorted olive and grapeseed oils, Greek dried figs, Turkish pistachio nuts, fresh Phyllo dough and mountains of spices.
On my last visit, I turned the corner to browse the last shelf in the back of the store, and what did I find? Clear bags bursting at the seams with gorgeous French green Le Puy lentils. For some reason, these little beauties are hard to find around here, so I excitedly snatched up 2 big bags and added them to my basket.
Who knew I'd EVER get so darn excited about LENTILS. I guess it's the small things in life, folks. ;-)
A recipe by Ina Garten immediately sprang to mind as I continued to browse the shelves filled with gourmet goodies - A warm plate of French lentils with a Dijon vinaigrette. It's a classic dish that sounded heavenly, and I couldn't wait to cook with these perfect little green legumes that I had read so much about.
That night, I got to work in the kitchen. I added a little bacon and celery to Ina's original recipe (which you can see HERE), and the final result was just as delightful as I had hoped. This dish will most certainly be making another appearance at our kitchen table!
Bon Appetit, my friends!
Warm French Lentils
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten
2 slices bacon, cut into lardons
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, scrubbed and 1/2-inch-diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup French green Le Puy lentils
1 white turnip, cut in half
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a medium skillet, fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
Pour off all but 2 tbsp of the bacon fat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the lentils, 4 cups of water, 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. Remove and discard the turnip and drain the lentils. Place them in a medium bowl with the onion, carrots, and celery, and add the bacon and butter.
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. The longer the lentils sit, the more salt and pepper you'll want to add.