Top this bistro-style dish with poached egg for extra savor
Winter is waning in our part of the world, though spring is still snoozing. So warm salads, no?
This warm lentil salad is perfect for the season. It’s flavorful and filling without being too heavy. And it’s a double-duty dish. We like to serve it as a main course, but it could also be a starter.
You might say it’s two recipes in one. Perfect for in-between weather.
Recipe: Warm Lentil Salad with Bacon
Lentil salads are favorites at French bistros, where there are countless variations on the dish. We like to flavor ours with bacon, but you could omit that and opt to go vegetarian. See Notes for ideas on recipe alternatives.
We used Poached egg to garnish this dish. You could also use Fried egg. And sautéed or Poached scallops would also make a terrific topper. Or maybe sautéed shrimp.
If you’re serving this dish as a side, just omit the garnish entirely. Lentils pair well with duck, lamb, or pork.
This dish takes about 30 minutes to prepare. The recipe serves 3 to 4 as a main dish, or twice that many as a starter.
- ¾ cup lentils (brown or green; see Notes)
- ~6 ounces bacon, preferably slab or thick-cut (see Notes)
- ½ medium onion (we like to use purple onion for this dish, but any color will do; may double this amount—see Notes)
- 1 medium carrot (may double this amount)
- 1 garlic clove (or to taste)
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons minced parsley
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- additional salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- poached or fried egg as garnish (optional)
- additional minced parsley for garnish (optional)
- Pick over the lentils to remove any grit or dirt, then give them a quick rinse. Place the lentils in a 2-quart saucepan and cover with water by about an inch. Bring the lentils to a simmer, then cook them until done (about 20 to 25 minutes). Check the water level from time to time; it’s OK if almost all the water gets absorbed (you want that), but don’t let the lentils dry out completely—they can scorch.
- While the lentils are cooking, cut the bacon into pieces of about 1 inch by ¼ inch. Place the bacon pieces in a large frying pan, turn the stovetop heat to medium, and cook until the bacon is crispy.
- Meanwhile, peel the onion and cut it into dice of ½ inch or so. Peel the carrot and cut it into dice of ¼ inch or a bit larger. Peel the garlic and mince it finely. Set all the chopped veggies aside.
- When the bacon is done (Step 2), remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Pour off most of the bacon fat, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the frying pan. Add the onion and carrots to the pan, season to taste with salt, and sauté for 5 minutes.
- While the onion and carrots are cooking, wash and dry the parsley. Mince it finely (you may want to mince a bit extra for garnish). Set aside.
- After the onion and carrots have cooked for 5 minutes (Step 4), add the minced garlic. Cook for another minute. Add the vinegar, then cook until most of the vinegar has evaporated (a minute or two).
- By now, the lentils will probably be done (if they’re not, turn off the heat under the frying pan, holding the onion and carrot mixture until the lentils are ready). Drain the cooked lentils (if necessary), then add them to the frying pan with the onion and carrots. Add the minced parsley, and season to taste with additional salt and black pepper.
- At this point, you can hold the lentil mixture over low stovetop heat while you prepare the poached or fried eggs.
- When ready to serve, dish the lentils onto serving plates, top each serving with an egg, and sprinkle on extra parsley (if using) for garnish.
- You can use either brown or green lentils for this recipe. French Le Puy lentils are wonderful, but a bit pricey (and not always easy to find in the US). We opted for ordinary green lentils in this dish.
- You can double the amount of onion and/or carrots in this dish if you want more veggies. A rib or two of chopped celery would also be a nice addition. Or maybe some red bell pepper.
- Leeks make a great substitute for onion in this dish (use the white and light green parts of 2 leeks).
- Shallots or green onions also work nicely in this recipe.
- In addition to parsley (or in place of it), you could use fresh tarragon or thyme (maybe a couple of teaspoons).
- Slab bacon is ideal in this dish (just cut it into pieces). Thick-cut bacon is a good substitute.
- If you don’t want to use bacon, you can omit it and use a couple tablespoons of good-quality virgin olive oil.
- Or you could use butter. Lentils and butter make a remarkably good flavor combo.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. Kosher salt has bigger flakes than table salt, so it doesn’t fill a measuring spoon as “tightly.” Hence, it’s less salty by volume. If you’re using regular table salt, use only about half as much as we suggest (Step 4). You can add more later if necessary.
“Mmmm,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Eggstremely good stuff.”
“Yes,” I said. “This is eggceptional.”
“Hey, stop it!” said Mrs K R. “You’re poaching my favorite yolks.”
“Sorry to be eggsasperating,” I said. “Just wanted to crack you up.”
“No need to eggsplain,” said Mrs K R. “When it comes to bad puns, we’re pretty hard-boiled.”
And on that note, we’ll eggxit.
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