Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lentils with Lardons and Tomatoes

In my attempts to eat more healthily, I fell in love with this very delicious, and very versatile lentil salad. I was never really inspired by lentils until recently, as I was flipping through a French cookbook I bought last winter in Paris. In Françoise Bernard's "ma cuisine d'aujourd'hui", there is a recipe for Lentilles en Salade. Now, I am definitely one who eats with her eyes first... and the photo of this recipe caught my attention. It was just a simple bowl of lentils, shallots, tomatoes, a hard boiled egg, and parsley. It looked bright, clean, and refreshing... exactly the opposite of my usual fried chicken and cheeseburgers.

I had some lentils lying around the house, so I figured I'd give the recipe a shot. I didn't have exactly the same ingredients as it called for in Françoise Bernard's recipe, so I improvised with what I had in my kitchen. In place of fresh tomatoes I used sun-dried tomatoes, and instead of hard boiled eggs, I used black olives. The salad was so delicious that I ate it every day for lunch for two weeks straight. Hot or cold, it was good either way. And you want to know the best part? I lost 7 lbs. without even trying!!

So now that I've tried this recipe a few different ways, I figured I would post the most recent combination. This time I used cherry tomatoes and lardons(yeaaaah Lardon My French!!) and it was just as delicious. I made this the other night for Quentin's family, and to fancy it up, we served it with Coquilles Saint-Jacques(Scallops).

Lentils with Lardons and Tomatoes

Adapted from Françoise Bernard "Ma Cuisine d'Aujourd'hui"

2 cups french green lentils, washed
1 pint cherry tomatoes(I used yellow and red ones, but you can just use red ones if that's all you have)
1/3 cup of lardons(if you don't have access to lardons, you can always just use bacon that's cut into small strips)
fresh parsley, for garnish

For the Vinaigrette:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
zest of half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

I first start with the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, add the lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. While whisking, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the bowl until the vinaigrette emulsifies. Set aside.

Rinse lentils in cold water. In a large pot, add lentils with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until done. Strain in a colander and place back into the pot. Add vinaigrette while the lentils are still hot, and gently stir to combine.

Cut cherry tomatoes in quarters and remove seeds. Then cut each quarter in half cross-wise.

Heat a saute pan on medium to medium-low heat. Add the lardons(or bacon) and slowly render out the fat until they are browned and crispy. Place lardons on a paper towel to soak up any extra grease.

You can either wait until the lentils cool to add the tomatoes and lardons, or add them while they are still hot. Both ways are delicious. Add chopped parsley, and fold to combine. Serves 4 to 6.

This recipe works really well with seafood, hard boiled eggs, or even just on it's own. If you don't have all of the ingredients, feel free to add whatever you want... this really is a "whatever you have in your pantry" kind of recipe.

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