In praise of lentils

There are a number of foods that seem destined for childhood disdain but which are often loved as we get older.  One such item seems to be lentils.  I don’t have very fond memories of lentils growing up and as a result it was quite a long time before I got around to cooking them.  But when I did I was amazed.  This simple (quick cooking!) legume is an amazing detour from the typical meal starch.  They pack a lot of wonderful flavor and texture and can play a great supporting role to the likes of grilled salmon.  If you haven’t had them in a while I encourage you to give them another try!  I should probably also take this opportunity to advocate for acid.  Often a splash of fresh lemon, or vinegar if you don’t have a lemon tree, can go a long way to brightening dishes.  I often find it reduces the amount of salt needed to get the seasoning right.  In this case red wine vinegar turns what would be something a bit bland into something quite grand.

Lentils!

8 oz lentils (Puy are wonderful)
3 1/2 c chicken stock or vegetable stock (homemade right?)
2 carrots
1 leak washed and cut in half or small onion
sachet (thyme, peppercorns, garlic, bay)
your favorite vinegar (red wine is traditional)
minced shallot
salt and pepper to taste

Pick over the lentils looking for any small rocks which can get in.  Then throw the first five ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.  Once accomplished lower to a simmer and cook until tender (about 30 minutes).  You are looking for something like al dente pasta.  In other words there should be a pleasant bite to them.  Once done turn them out into a shallow pan to let them cool off quickly.  If you are going to use them right away you can drain off the cooking liquid.  If not keep them in the liquid until you do.  Once cool enough to handle you can mix in the minced shallot (as much as you would like), salt, pepper, and vinegar (start with a couple tsp vinegar but do it to taste).  Please use a vinegar with some character.  Serve them as a side to something like fresh grilled salmon.

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22 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food

22 responses to “In praise of lentils

  1. I love lentils, and the recipe is excellent. What really strikes me is how good your recent photography has been. Fantastic post.

    • Thank you. I’ve been trying to get better light and am taking more photos so I have better options to choose from. Mostly it is being inspired by other sites with good photography, like yours!

  2. Beautifully plated lentils with the salmon.
    🙂 Mandy

  3. I bought some lentils a few weeks ago and have yet to cook them. I think your post will now get me to get around to cooking them!

  4. I’m with you. Lentils rock. I love them with salmon as well. Also put them in a soup with sausage that I love during the winter. Great photo!

  5. These and black eyed peas are such great beans for quick meals. I’m the opposite though. Growing up, lentils were a favorite quick meal. Just a soup with pasta and tomatoes. It took me years to find other ways to use them that I liked! This looks wonderful.

  6. I grew to love lentils also! My mother could never get me to eat them! I think they are a perfect compliment to the salmon and what an awesome presentation!! Great tip on the lemon / vinegar.

  7. I totally agree about adding acid at the end of cooking. It can really make a dish go from good to great.

  8. I’ve grown to appreciate lentils and now use them often in my cooking. Great looking recipe!

  9. Wow!! I had never seen lentils with salmon!! I also love the earthy flavors of the lentils with the freshness of the salad. Great presentation and picture!!

  10. The salad was arugula, tomato and corn. Everything went together quite nicely. I would definitely recommend it.

  11. So healthy and refreshing looking!

  12. Your food is great! I just subscribed.

  13. Lentils with salmon, brilliant!

  14. You’re so right about the acidity thing. Maybe that’s why lentils also taste so good with tomato-y things, although even there an extra bit of lemon or yummy vinegar can do wonders. Yay for putting lentils in a good light!

  15. Pingback: The buck stops here | joshuafagans

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