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