French lentil salad with walnuts

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There are few dishes I’ve made or enjoyed recently that are this healthy and also this satisfying!  I know many of you are still on your New Year’s resolution kick to eat more healthfully, lose weight, etc., and this dish will give you both health and pure eating pleasure.  These French lentils are truly easy to make and are great warm, or cold the next day for lunch over a salad, or on their own.

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The recipe, from David Lebovitz’s “My Paris Kitchen,” calls for simple and earthy winter flavors — bay leaf, celery and toasted walnuts are the subtle standouts but the bright dressing has complex flavors that will keep you coming back for more.

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The dressing mixes red wine vinegar with creamy Dijon mustard and delicate shallots.  The recipe also requires minimal clean up because you make the dressing in the same bowl you’ll use to toss your lentils together with toasted walnuts and fresh parsley.  Lots of parsley, please!!

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Here’s to a taste of Paris!

French Lentil Salad with Walnuts, adapted from “My Paris Kitchen

Lentils

  • 1 1/2 cups French green lentils (I used Le Puy)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5-7 sprigs thyme (I like a lot of thyme!)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 rib celery, finely diced
  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely diced

Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and minced

Garnish

  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted then chopped

Preparation

  1. Rinse and pick over lentils.  Put them in a saucepan filled with salted water.  Add the bay leaf and thyme.  Bring to a boil, uncovered then decrease heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, partially covered at times, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the finely diced carrot, celery and red onion and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.  Check the lentils after 5 minutes because you want them just tender, not overcooked.  Mushy lentils are not fantastic.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, make the dressing.  Mix vinegar, salt, mustard, oil and shallot in a large bowl.  Make sure the bowl is large enough to later hold the lentils and garnish.
  4. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them and immediately mix into the dressing mixture while the lentils are warm so the flavors fully absorb into the lentils.  Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf as you go.  Let the lentils cool to room temperature, stirring them occasionally.
  5. Once cooled, add freshly ground black pepper to taste, the parsley and nuts.  Taste and add more salt if needed.  You can also add crumbled goat or feta cheese, if you’d like (David calls for it in his recipe, but I omitted).  Just add the cheese right before serving for better presentation and taste.  Nothing is better than a surprise creamy chunk of cheese!

Keep refrigerated and bring to room temperature before serving.

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