Do you remember an advert by a certain credit card? They referred to the card as a flexible friend. A misnomer if ever there was!
My flexible friends in the kitchen are lentils. Cheap, tasty and nutritious. They are packed with protein and in my mind an often forgotten meal. People tend to think of them as tiresome as they need soaking, tasteless, dull and yes even gas producers 🙂 Let’s right a few of those wrongs.
There are a myriad of lentils out there but for todays meal I’m going to cook with Lentilles Du Puy, or if you can’t get those (and they are a bit more expensive) Green lentils. Besides as I’m back in France it would be rude not to start with my hosts own lentils.These lentils need no soaking, are quick to cook and very adaptable.
First up a bit of background – Lentilles du Puy / le Puy lentils – “Cultivated for over 2000 years in the region of Le Puy en Velay, the “green lentils” are still produced using no chemical fertilizers. The “AOC (appellation d’origine controlée) production area covers 88 communes in the Haute Loire department, in the Auvergne region.”
I said they are adaptable, they are both a winter and summer food for us. For winter warmers we use them as alternatives to meat in Lasagna, Moussaka, Shepherds Pie or should that be Cottage Pie, maybe I should settle on Gardeners’ Pie to name a few, and yes I need to get round to writing these recipe up. For summer or lighter meals they are easily transformed into salads, with a vinaigrette or fresh herbs, side dishes paired with some baked or grilled fish like Salmon, or as a main course topped with roasted vegetables and some crumbled feta cheese. You see they are tasty too.
Elizabeth David in her classic 1960’s book French Provincial Cooking, cooks up a parsley butter version. But I don’t have my book with me (why did I take it home and then leave it there?), and I’m longing for that dish but can’t remember exactly how to make it. So off to the internet I trawl, and then back round I come to a cookbook that I do have with me Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg . He’s obviously a fan, and gives readers a choice of recipes for “Dressed Lentils”. And so I took inspiration, and the quantities from his recipe and made you a my own version.
Promenade Parsley Lentils
For 2 large servings –
To cook the lentils you will need ~
- 125g puy or green lentils
- Water or vegetable stock for cooking
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and bashed
- A handful of parsley stalks
Cooking Instructions ~
- Wash and rinse the lentils, place them in a large pan and cover them with water. Bring them to the boil and cook for a minute or two.
- Then drain the lentils and put them back into the pan with some fresh water, enough to cover them by about an inch.
Why are we doing this? Apparently it stops the “joys” of excessive gas.
- Now add the garlic cloves, parsley stalks and a bit of vegetable stock if using (alternatively add a bay leaf, half a carrot, half an onion and half a stalk of celery). bring to the boil and then gently simmer for approx 20 to 30 minutes.
- The lentils are cooked when they are soft to the touch and can be squidged between your fingers.
- Drain them and remove the garlic cloves, parsley stalks (and veggies if you used them)
Dressing your lentils ~
- Finely chop the garlic cloves up, along with a shallot and gently saute them in some olive oil and butter until they are translucent and cooked.
- Add 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and stir in the lentils. Grind some black pepper and sprinkle a bit of sea salt onto the mixture and cook on a gentle heat for a few more minutes.
- Turn the heat off and cover the pan, and leave it for 5 minutes so the flavours are absorbed.
- Dress the cooked lentils with a squeeze of lemon, a dash of olive oil and slat and pepper
- Or as HFW does make a vinaigrette of olive oil, cider vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.
You can eat them hot, warm or cold. I told you they were adaptable. I made enough so that I could have some leftovers for lunch the next day and ate them with a Toulouse sausage, sliced up, all mixed in with a leafy green salad.
Gardening Notes ~
I’ve fancied growing some lentils for years. I have finally got myself some to grow, I just need a bit of extra land to try them out. Well if they grow in the Auvergne at altitude they should grow OK in the South East. I bought them from Seeds Of Italy. I realise I probably need the equivalent of a field to grow enough for a few meals, but as a gardener I want to grow them because I can! I also realise they aren’t Puy, as I’m not in the Auvergne, but these ones are Italian. Either way I’m sure they will be tasty and fun to grow.