First of all it was very fun to hear back from so many peeps about the poached salmon. It warms my heart to hear you are in the kitchen and cooking!! Whenever I make the salmon I also make the perfect side dish to go with it – french lentils. The lentil’s earthy depth of flavor perfectly compliments the zesty lemon flavor in the salmon. The orange carrots and salmon look so whimsical and charming together on the plate.
Lentils are dried seeds in the legume family and pack a powerful nutritional punch (10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and o grams of fat per serving). Look for them in the dried beans and legume section at the market. Think of lentils like you would pasta, rice or potatoes. I did not grow up eating lentils but I am so glad I discovered them. My kids gobble them up every time I serve them. Serve them warm with a sauce, cooled and tossed in a salad or baked in a casserole. There are many different types of lentils but French lentils are called Lentilles du Puy and are grown in Auvergne region in central France.
And speaking of France, my new favorite cookbook this year is Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. She has so many recipes for simple, rustic, incredible authentic french food. (Not fussy at all!) Every recipe I try has been a home run at my house. Dorie will inspire our recipe for french lentils today.
Before we tackle the recipe however, it would be out of character if I didn’t meander a bit. So…here we are off to Chelsea Market in New York City:
These pictures capture just a glimmer of Chelsea Market in the meatpacking district in New York City. I spent a wonderful Sunday morning wandering the market a few weeks back and strongly encourage you to check it out if you ever get a chance. It is a gargantuan commercial food processing center and also home of The Food Network’s national headquarters and operations. The really cool part is you walk down the center hallway of the market and all the commercial food operations are behind glass windows and you can peak in at the production at all the different venues. There are also retail counters open to the public with a myriad of food available – dairy farmers, chocolatiers, butchers, fish mongers, bakeries, cheese, charcuterie, produce markets, Italian specialty, wine…the list goes on.
I was absolutely delighted when I looked through the glass window of Sarabeth’s Bakery and spotted Dori Greenspan working away in the production room with her friend Sarabeth Levine. After we asked an employee if we could meet her, Dorie came out and visited with us for a few minutes and was just as charming and delightful in person as she is in her books.
inspired by Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
1 cup French green lentils (rinse under cold water in a stainer and pick out any bits of stone missed by packers)
1 small onion, peel and keep whole
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 TBSP olive oil
1 clove minced fresh garlic
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Saute the diced carrot and onion in olive oil for 2-3 minutes until tender.
Press the whole cloves into the onion. I love cloves so I used many. Dorie’s recipe called for using just one whole clove. I would suggest starting with 1-3 cloves and adjusting accordingly for your palate. Putting the cloves in the whole onion first is a great culinary trick. The cloves gently flavor the sauce and after the lentils cook we just take out the whole onion instead of fishing around to remove the individual cloves.
Put the whole onion with the cloves, garlic, bay leaf, lentils and chicken broth in the pan with the sauteed carrots and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are tender. Drain the lentils and remove the bay leaf, whole onion and cloves.