I've never really been into lentils. I can on only recall two occasions, once when my friend's mum made it in a Middle Eastern dish and another at a curry house. I wasn't keen on either dish so I made a conscious effort not to eat lentils ever again. I flicked through one of my favourite cookbooks Bacon: Recipes For Curing, Smoking and Eating by Theresa Gilliam and discovered this recipe. I was enticed by all the ingredients which I love bar the lentils. So what's my verdict? The other flavours, the bacon, carrots and shallots compliment the lentils and help brings out an otherwise bland flavour. I served this as a side dish, however, due to the substantial portion and bold flavours, this could be served as a main course.
Recipe for Favourite French Lentils
175g white pearl onions
6 rashers of bacon, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
170g French green lentils
1 litre water
5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
French crusty bread
To peel the pearl onions, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and arrange an ice bath alongside. Blanch the onions in the water for 1 minute. Scoop the onions out of the water and plunge them into the waiting ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain the onions and use your fingers to pop the onions from their loosened skins.
Cook the bacon in a large frying pan over a medium heat until almost crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the peeled onions and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the carrots, garlic, sat and pepper and cook until the vegetables are soft and the onions are slightly caramelised, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lentils, water, thyme, sprigs and bay leaf. Bring the lentils to the boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 20-30 minutes.
Add the butter and mustard just before serving. Stir until the butter is melted and the ingredients are evenly combined.
Serve warm with bread or toasted baguette slices.