Thursday, April 7, 2011

French Lentils with Onions and Preserved Lemon

I love little French lentils, don't you?

Right now the weather is finally turning towards spring, but there's still a bit of nip in the air. It's been a real cold spring. After a day of transplanting, making the garden bigger, digging dirt and planting seeds, your wind-reddened cheeks want to sit down to a meal like this. Very hearty, satisfying and filling.

A loaf.

And throw in a loaf of bread, while you're at it, would you? I used this recipe, and while it's not the most delicious loaf you've ever had, it does produce two huge loaves in short order. And that's saying something when you've spaced out on making bread and need some on the double. There's only one rising on this one. It makes a good piece of toast, too.

Save celery leaves and freeze them for times like this.

1 cup of French lentils
2 cups of water

Boil the lentils in the water for about twenty minutes, until the lentils are tender.

Meanwhile, saute two medium onions (I like to slice them into thin wedges) in some olive oil until soft, and browned. Add the cooked and drained lentils (save the cooking liquid).  Dice a half of a preserved lemon, without the flesh (I like to reserve the lemon flesh for salad dressings--somewhat milder and just as lemony). Mix well over medium to low heat. Add about a quarter of a cup of the reserved liquid and simmer on low. To finish, I sprinkled a good pinch of salt, and a handful of chopped celery leaves (parsley is fine, too).

Duck fat - the answer to your prayers.
I served the lentils with potatoes roasted in duck fat: I like small yellow potatoes, sliced in thick rounds. I put a large baking tray in the oven at 400 degrees. When the tray gets a little warm, I drop a tablespoonful of duck fat and return the pan to the oven to melt. Then I put the potato slices out in a single layer.

The lighting is off, but I wanted you to see the potatoes. I like them soft, not crispy.


  1. omg! i can't believe you posted this. i just had this for dinner - it's one of my staples! after browning onions i mix with the cooked lentils and equal amount of whatever cooked leftover grain i have - usually farro, or quinoa. i finish with the diced preserved peel, parsley, cilantro or arugula if i have it, and either aleppo pepper (winter) or sliced thin fresh chiles in the summer. here's my clincher - crumbled feta on top - always! so fun that we ate a very similar dish! :)

  2. what a gorgeous loaf! and little lentils, julia. your house eats well! duck fat indeed! how those potatoes glow, lovely, and i love your photos, you must turn pro - say like for the new york times, yes?

  3. Tigress touched on it a bit, but this reminds me of mujadara - lentils and rice. Nothing like the deliciously brown onions on top of lentils to remind me! We always ate it growing up with salad, and I would mix the two together, and it looks quite a bit like the third picture!

  4. Tigress- Your style sounds amazing! Especially with the feta that you make. I'll have to add some grains next time, like you and Emily suggest.

    Michael - Thank you, thank you! We do eat well, if I may say so myself. It makes me proud. But I don't know about the Times, a compliment like that is very flattering coming from you! But you know better than me-- that's for really accomplished and talented folks! ; )

    Denise - I got a huge bunch of celery last summer with a gorgeous frond of leaves and putting it in the freezer is the best thing I've done!

    Nomnivorous/Emily - The onions always make it so savory for me! I'll have to add some grains next time, like I said to Tigress!

  5. You are killing me! I so love French lentils and cook them with mirepoix and finished with a dash of vinegar. The preserved lemons are brilliant. Freezing celery leaves? Do they stay green and what about the texture? Thanks for the duck fat pots too.

  6. Am lovin the sound of this and it is always great to find a use for preserved lemons. I find I want to make them but then haven't a clue what to do next! Trice Fab

  7. ...another herb that is great here is lovage. we really need to bring back the lovage peeps! :)

    (sorry, i just get really excited about lentils!)

  8. Pat - A dash of vinegar; that sounds lovely. The celery leaves stay green, albeit dark green. They freeze quite well, and I just grab them still frozen and chop them up, immediately adding them to whatever hot dish I'm making. I love them!

    Gloria - Hey there! I have found that once I started putting the lemons in things, everything wanted them. They're that good.

    Tigress - LOVE lovage! You are right.

  9. Love the color of the lentils --- my mouth is watering with the recipe . . .

  10. Those lentils look so yummy! I just picked up some lemons in hopes of making preserved lemons (I've never had them before). I'll have to save this recipe for when they're ready!

  11. Elizabeth - Aren't they pretty?

    Allison - Thank you! Oo, once you start making preserved lemons you'll want to put them in everything!

  12. Julia, This looks delicious. Lentils are a favorite. I made Lentil Bulgur Salad this week. Yum!

  13. Karen, thank you! And thanks for the idea, too...