Ina Garten. My hero. She was the first cookbook author to show me French cuisine is not scary. Done the right way (with a glass of wine in your hand and the Midnight in Paris Spotify playlist on repeat) it too can be fulfilling, comforting, approachable, and deceptively easy to throw together.
Same thing goes for lentils. They can be intimidating to cook, and it’s all too easy to wind up with a mush lump of lentil mash. But with a few tricks, I promise you’ll be just fine.
Tip #1: Once you add your water and lentils, bring the pot to a rolling boil then immediately reduce heat to a simmer (lowest setting on your stove) and simmer. You want to see a few tiny bubbles a the top, but not a boil. Just enough bubbles to let your lentils dance around in the water.
Tip #2: Don’t add any water to the pot while the lentils are cooking. This is the easiest way to make mushy mashed lentils. Instead, cook your lentils in low sodium chicken broth until done. Season the cooked lentils with salt and stir well.
Tip #3: Please, please, please, wash your leeks. Those buggers have dirt hiding in every nook and cranny. There’s nothing worst than biting into your silky lentils then finding a gritty lump of dirt. Ewww.
Tip #4: Speaking of washing, you do actually need to rinse and sort your lentils. This is not a random task they just slapped on your bag of lentils. What’s worse than biting into dirty leeks? Biting down on a tiny rock that you forgot to take out of your lentils during the sorting process. Yup. I have a chipped tooth and lost dignity after I made that mistake once.
1 cup French (green)
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth (if vegetarian, substitute low sodium vegetable broth)
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 large Carrot, chopped (~2/3 cup)
1 Leek, washed well and chopped (~2/3 cup)
2 Tbs Garlic, minced
1/3 cup White Wine
1 Bay Leaf
2 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
Sort and rinse lentils. Heat chicken broth on stove until hot but not boiling while you prep the other ingredients.
Thoroughly was leeks. Remove all but white and light green part, and chop. Peel and chop carrot. Mince garlic.
Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add carrots and leeks, stir, and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add wine and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until alcohol has cooked off.
Add lentils, hot chicken broth, and bay leaf to the pot. Stir. Bring to a rolling boil, then immediately lower heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until lentils are al dente but not mushy.
Strain over a colander to remove excess liquid. Return lentils to pot and stir in salt, pepper, and thyme.
Serve with Seared Salmon, Red-Wine Braised Chicken, or have a delicious bowl all to yourself for a healthy but decadent vegetarian feast!