Written by Irene Kopitov
There’s something to be said for revisiting your recipe file. I have a habit of ripping recipes out of magazines, printing them from my favorite sites, and then filing them away to try “eventually.”
If I hadn’t gone back to Melissa Clark’s red lentil soup with lemon on a wintery Sunday afternoon, I would never have known how much I love lentils. Silky, flavourful, and fast with a punch of lemon and cilantro, the dish was so comforting that it has become one of my go-tos.
Maybe I’ve discovered this glorious legume late in life, but now that I have, I just can’t stop singing its praises.
High in fiber and rich in protein, lentils make for a great addition to soups, salads or side dishes. They are delicious hot and fantastic cold as leftovers and allow many dishes to feel light while still being filling and substantial.
The lentil obsession really kicked in when I started learning about the many different lentil varieties, including the firm, dark green du Puy.
(It helps that I discovered these on a recent trip to Paris, where they were served as a simple and perfectly made appetizer with a little crispy bacon at a classic French bistro.)
I love that de Puy lentils are such a staple of French cooking that they’re available at every corner bodega. de Puy lentils aren’t quite that easy to track down where I live in London, but are certainly available at most good supermarkets and specialty shops.
The amazing du Puy is ideal for salads because it holds its shape when cooked and really stands up well to dressings.
You can add so many kinds of roasted veggies to these, but I am really loving this recipe with its garlicky, sharp vinaigrette filled with briny capers, cornichons, and herbs that release their incredible aromas when they hit the warm lentils.
The original recipe called for pork belly and boiled potatoes, but I decided to simplify a bit by adding roasted, caramelized Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes), which complement the nutty flavor of the lentils perfectly.
- 1/2 pound Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), cleaned and quartered
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large shallot
- 1 whole clove
- 1 cup small green French lentils
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or coconut vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 small to medium garlic cloves, chopped into pieces
- 6 cornichons, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
- 2-3 scallions, green parts only, sliced into roughly 2-inch pieces
- 1 large handful flat leaf parsley leaves (about 1/2 cup, loosely packed)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 scallion, green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 small handful flat leaf parsley leaves (about a scant 1/4 cup, loosely packed)
Roast the artichokes and cook the lentils:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Toss the Jerusalem artichokes with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Spread in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes, until soft and caramelized.
- While the chokes roast, bring 1 quart of water to a boil.
- Peel and halve the shallot and pierce one of the halves with the whole clove.
- Add both halves of the shallot, lentils, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt to the boiling water.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minute until the lentils are tender but retain a bit of "bite."
- Strain and discard the shallot, clove, and bay leaf.
Make the dressing:
- Stir the shallot and vinegar together in a small bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes to soften and mellow the shallot.
- Add to a mini food processor, along with the mustard, garlic, cornichons, capers, scallions, and parsley.
- Pulse to blend and make a rough paste, then drizzle the olive oil in a slow but steady stream until the dressing emulsifies.
Assemble and serve:
- Toss the lentils and roasted Jerusalem artichokes with half the dressing, the remaining 1 thinly sliced scallion, and whole flat leaf parsley in a large bowl or rimmed platter.
- Spoon the rest of the dressing over the plated lentils and sunchokes.
The lentils and Jerusalem artichokes can be made up to 2 days before you plan to serve the salad. Reheat before mixing with the dressing.
The dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance; leftover dressing will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
Recipe adapted from The New York Times' City Kitchen
Irene Kopitov is a transplanted New Yorker living in London who loves nothing more than a whole grilled fish and a Negroni on a sunny summer day. Since there aren’t too many of those in her new home, she is learning to love the sprawling farmers markets and afternoon pints. Born in the Ukraine and raised in Boston, Irene is a publicist specializing in design and the arts.