Canal House Lentils

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My New Favorite Meal!

Winter and lentils go together in my world, as long as winter is in a cold-ish location because I feel that winter doesn’t count if you are in a tropical place. So since I’m in Seattle as I type this – as opposed to basking in the glorious sunshine in Central America- and it’s cold and blustery outside and already dark at 4:45 pm, I am craving wintery foods.

And what I hankered for earlier this morning was lentils.  (Now you know how strange I am!) I figured I could make a batch and have them topped with poached egg and avocado for breakfast or as a side dish with along with oven roasted root vegetables to accompany fish.  

So began my search.  I looked at many blogs and online recipes and settled on “Canal House Lentils.”  Bon Appetit and Epicurious both published this recipe, and they were fairly identical.  Mine?  Much is more or less the same but I editorialized a lot more.

Just so you know, French Green Lentils or Puy lentils (I get them in bulk at my supermarket) as they are also called, take the longest to cook stovetop but stay firmer when all is said and done.  Mine took 45 minutes to cook and the lentils are soft, a little soupy and oh-so-good.  I think they are best slightly warm; a lot of the liquid reabsorbs if you leave them in the pot without a lid once the cooking finishes.  My chief clean up person and food critic (aka husband) remarked how these tasted so meaty!

Canal House Lentils A La Marilyn

Serves 6 (the original recipe said serves 8, but that would never fly over here.  I’ll be lucky to get 4 servings, given my affinity for lentils.)



  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, cleaned and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (remember the tube?)
  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • Freshly ground black pepper to finish (The original recipe said Kosher salt to taste also, but I found them salty enough without, and I’m a salt lover)
  • Thinly sliced scallions (optional; for serving)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, garlic, and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and tomato paste begins to darken, about 4 minutes.

Add lentils and 2 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 45–55 minutes.

Remove from the heat and keep them covered for 10 minutes; add tamari and season with pepper.

After the lentils sit for 10 minutes off the heat, and after I added the tamari and pepper,  I removed the lid and let them breathe for another 15 minutes to absorb some of the liquid.  And I definitely recommend the scallions on top for a little brightness.

Cook’s notes

  • You can make these up to five days ahead – just cover them tightly and leave in the fridge.
  • I am thinking of making these a little middle eastern by crumbling the top with some feta cheese (very little) and possibly some preserved chopped lemon.  Just a thought to make these less brown. If I actually do this, I’ll cut down on the tamari.
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