This incredible dish (one of my absolute favorites – like take it to a desert island favorites) comes from Patricia Wells’ The Provence Cookbook. It is the one cookbook I took with me on our trip to France. Not only did I use it to cook lots of delicious food for our friends, but I also used it as a reference. Wells details out where the best markets are, where the best pottery is, and profiles some of her favorite farmers. It is an amazing cookbook but also a resource for traveling in her beloved Provence. Because this book really is a love letter to Provence.
You could use regular lentils in this recipe, but Le Puy lentils are worth seeking out for their firm texture and density. Toasting the walnuts really brings out their flavor, so don’t skip that step. The method of cooking the lentils may seem overly fussy here, but I trust Wells implicitly, so I always follow her advice when making this dish.
Adapted from The Provence Cookbook.
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt to taste
6 tbsp. walnut oil
1 1/2 cups (8 oz.) French lentils
2 cups vegetable stock
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thirds
1 onion, peeled and stuck with a clove
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 capers in vinegar, drained, rinsed, and chopped if large
1 cup fresh mint leaves
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Place the lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a jar with a screw top (such as a jam jar). Cover and give it a good shake. Add the oil and shake to blend. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
Place the lentils in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water. Transfer them to a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water boils, remove the saucepan from the heat. Transfer the lentils back to the sieve and drain over a sink. Rinse the lentils under cold running water again. Return the lentils to the saucepan, add the stock, season with salt, and bring just to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the carrot and onion. Simmer gently, uncovered, until the lentils are cooked but not mushy. Taste to make sure. Remove the onion and carrot and discard. If there is still liquid in the pot along with the lentils, drain them once again in the sink.
Transfer the lentils to a large bowl. Add the walnuts, capers, and a few grinds of pepper. Add the vinaigrette to taste – you may not need all of it. Toss well. Once the lentils have cooled a bit, add the mint and toss again.
This dish can be served warm or room temperature.
It will keep for 2 days, covered, in the refrigerator.
Total Servings: 6
Nutritional Information Per Serving
Saturated Fat: 1.4g