Braised French Green Lentils with Herbs and Tomatoes

Braised French Green Lentils with Herbs, Scallions & Tomatoes

Use nutty-tasting French green lentils that keep their shape when cooked. While butter makes for a richer, more unctuous dish, substitute a rich, fruity olive oil for a lighter vegan-friendly version. Make the Cooked Lentils and freeze for later use with perfectly delicious results when braised as in this recipe. French-type green lentils grown in California by Steve Gordo of Rancho Gordo and other domestic producers are a less expensive but top-quality alternative to the original imported French Le Puy lentils.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine French
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 12-ounce package (1½ cups) French green lentils
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ¼ bunch fresh thyme wrapped around and tied with kitchen string (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • ½ a peeled onion stuck with 4 whole cloves
  • 1 head garlic top ½-inch cut off and discarded
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 bunches scallions sliced
  • 4 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs such as tarragon, basil, dill, marjoram, chives, chervil, spearmint, and/or parsley

Instructions
 

  • Combine the lentils, bay leaves, thyme, onion, and garlic in a medium pot. Add 1 quart cold water and bring to a boil. Skim off any white foam and discard. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are halfway-cooked. Add the salt to taste and continue to cook 15 minutes longer or until the lentils are soft but still whole.
  • Remove from the heat, cool slightly and discard the bay leaves, thyme, onion, and garlic. Drain off and discard any excess liquid. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead of time, or frozen.)
  • Meanwhile, mix 2 tablespoons of the butter with the chopped herbs and reserve.
  • Sauté the scallions briefly in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, add diced tomatoes and cooked green lentils and simmer together several minutes until hot and somewhat thickened.
  • At the last minute, toss with the herb butter and serve immediately.

Notes

No need to soak lentils before cooking. Rinse under cold water and inspect to make sure there are no small stones hidden among the lentils.
Don't substitute common brown or green lentils here because they will cook up mushy. Other good choices are small Spanish Pardina lentils or black Beluga lentils.
Keyword French green lentils, fresh herbs, legumes, vegetarian