Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Warm French Lentils with Mustard Vinaigrette

Lentils are not something I grew up enjoying... in fact I remember my mom making lentil soup and I refused to even try it.  The smell, the color, the fact that they are healthy.. all reasons I wasn't interested.  They've never really made it into my adult cooking palette until now- thanks to Ina Garten.  I was watching Barefoot Contessa and she made these warm French lentils that looked so amazing I just had to try it.  I spotted some French lentils at the Chelsea Market on a trip to NYC, and finally made the recipe last night.  There were a couple unique things about the recipe that caught my eye when I watched Ina make it.  Along with the lentils and water, she put a clove-stuffed onion and a turnip to give them a unique flavor.  The flavored lentils are mixed in with the sauteed celery and onion, and topped with the sweet mustard vinaigrette to create one super flavorful lentil dish.  Now that I'm a fan of lentils, I can't wait to find more great recipes!

2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 large shallot, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 peeled onion, stuck with 6 cloves
1 turnip, peeled and halved
4-6 cups water
1 cup French lentils
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a skillet, heat the first two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the celery, carrot and shallot with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook for about 5 minutes until they are softening.  Add the garlic and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.  Set to the side.  

Meanwhile, in a medium-large sauce pan combine the lentils, onion, turnip, and water with a teaspoon of salt.  Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for about 15-20 minutes or until lentils are cooked through without being mushy.  At this point, drain the lentils and return to the pot off the heat.  
Mix the vegetables in.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining oil, mustard, and red wine vinegar with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Whisk to combine, and then pour the vinaigrette over the warm lentils and mix.  

The lentils will absorb the flavors immediately because of their heat.  Taste for more salt and pepper.  The vinaigrette provides a nice acidic touch to the dish and the flavor of the cloves really comes through in the background.  Serve as a side dish with fish, chicken, or pork.  We had it with a salmon recipe similar to this one and it was delicious!

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