For my money, these green-blue beauties are the quintessential lentil since they hold their shape beautifully and they do not lose their color when cooked. No, these lentils will not fade quietly into the night ― and their slight pepperiness offers endless possibilities as either a fabulously healthful entrée or an attractive side dish.
Le puy lentils are versatile enough to either to stand in as a charming base for an entrée such as salmon or duck, or become the focal point of a vegetarian meal. Salad with lentils can actually make sense (yay!) and become the perfect solution for buffets or picnics―no more dull, unappetizing blobs.
This past weekend I was in the mood for another of my one-pot wonders. This time I included lentils, collards and turkey kielbasa, each added to the pot when chopped and ready. I started with my standard soup pot and added a cup or so of rinsed lentils covered with water, plus half an onion and some celery leaves. While the lentils simmered I chopped up one bunch of tender collard greens, removing any tough cores, and added them along with 2 strips of chopped bacon, a dash of salt and 2 dried chile peppers. When it came to a boil, I reduced the heat and covered the pot slightly.
In a separate pan I heated a bit of olive oil and sautéed the rest of the onion, 2 cloves of garlic, a bit of coriander, thyme and a pinch of allspice. When that was aromatic I added one kielbasa cut in half lengthwise and chopped into 2 inch pieces along with a diced (Anaheim) pepper. This simmered slightly covered, to allow all the flavors to incorporate.
Meanwhile, I chopped up 3 medium carrots and added them to the lentil pot. When the lentils and collards had cooked about 30 minutes, I added the vegetables and sausage mixture to the lentils, tasted for seasoning, and simmered it all an additional 15-20 minutes. I was finished and cleaned up within an hour.
Of course, my favorite part of this meal is the eating. I’ll top the heated lentils with a chopped salad lightly dressed with olive oil and sherry vinegar, and then crumble a bit of bleu cheese over it all. Wonderful.