Written and photographed 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 puch 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.
Warm Lentil Salad with Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes
Adapted from The New York Times City Kitchen
Total time: 1 hour
Makes 4-6 servings but I highly recommend making extra, since this dish makes for amazing leftovers
- 1/2 pound Jerusalem artichokes, cleaned and quartered
- balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small onion
- 1 whole clove
- 1 cup small green French lentils, rinsed in a strainer
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and chopped
- 2 tablespoons cornichons, diced
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
- 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Toss the Jerusalem artichokes with a little olive oil and a small drop of balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Place the chokes in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes until soft and caramelized.
While the chokes roast, peel and halve the onion and pierce one of the halves with the whole clove. Add to a medium saucepan or stockpot with the lentils, thyme, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt. Pour in 1 quart (4 cups) water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minute until the lentils are tender but retain a bit of “bite.” Remove the onion and clove, thyme, and bay leaf, and keep warm.
Make the dressing:
Stir the shallot and red wine vinegar together in a small bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes to soften and mellow the shallot. Whisk in the garlic, Dijon mustard, a pinch each of salt and pepper, then whisk in the olive oil in a slow but steady stream until the dressing emulsifies. (Alternatively, you can use a mini food processor to make the dressing.) Add the capers, cornichons, scallions, and parsley.
Toss the lentils and chokes with half the dressing in a large bowl or rimmed platter. Spoon the rest of the dressing over the plated lentils and chokes, and sprinkle with the remaining garnish of scallions and parsley.
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.