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I love lentils and legumes in general, not for reasons that most people turn to beans (they’re so darn healthy!). For me … they just taste really great and provide a blank slate for sweet or savory ingredients. This is one of those recipes I watched being prepared and then I tasted and then I HAD to try making it myself. I believe the mixture started with a recipe from Deborah Madison…but this version bears little resemblance to that.
No quantities or recipe was actually given during the demonstration, but I jotted down key ingredients I wanted to utilize, and came up with this version. Actually, my lentils are superior to those I tasted way back when, if I do say so myself. I still plan to try to make this using French green lentils; I chose Beluga or black lentils this time because they take less time to cook and I was (shocking) in a hurry.
I call this a vegetable side dish, although technically lentils are legumes. Low in fat, high in fiber and protein, cooked lentils have an earthy taste. With the added mint and parsley and lightness of the fresh lemons and preserved lemon too, this dish screams summer. Serve it at room temperature, top it wily a little crumbled feta and eat it “as is” or scoop some on top of a nice lettuce or vegetable salad. Putting a poached egg on top of these warmed lentils becomes dinner. You’ll be full for a long time, I promise.
10-12 large servings
- 2 cups French, green or beluga lentils
- 1 onion, cut in half and skin removed
- 3 sprigs of tarragon
- 3 carrots, cut in 3 inch pieces
- 1 clove of garlic, smashed
- ½ tsp salt
Rinse the lentils, cover with water by 1 ½ inches. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and cook until pretty soft – about 20-30 minutes for black lentils. French Green lentils take around 45 minutes, but read the package instructions. Once soft, drain until no water remains. Remove the onion, , carrots and any remnants of the tarragon sprigs.
You can fold in the next set of ingredients (beets, mint, parsley, preserved lemon) while the lentils are still a little warm. Finally dress with the vinaigrette and add more salt, pepper or herbs to your liking.
- 1 bunch beets (about six or 1 ¼ lbs) peeled and cooked (see this recipe for cooking method). Chop into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1 preserved lemon (Rinse, cut in half, squeeze and save the juice then and scoop out the flesh inside the lemon. Discard this inside meat you removed from the peel. Dice the preserved lemon peel into 1/8 inch pieces.)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ½ cup of crumbled feta per serving (optional)
- 2 tsp chopped shallot
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp grated lemon peel
- pinch cayenne
- Juice you squeezed from the flesh of the preserved lemon
- Ground black pepper
- Sea salt (start with 1 tsp)
- 1 ½ tsp honey (or to taste)
For the dressing, use a hand blender to combine all the ingredients. The dressing will be thick and yellowish and this recipe makes about twice as much as you will need. Save the half of the vinaigrette you don’t use to drizzle on top of cooked asparagus, fish or another grainy salad!
Next time I’m going to try French green lentils and golden beets, just to switch it up!