I have gotten into a lentil kick this last year, and have been making Nigella Lawson’s French Lentils recipe quite a bit. I’ve since started adding my own spin to them, and I quite like this dish for spring. It’s so green and satisfying, though light. It’s a fairly simple recipe that I especially like to serve for a group gathering, like spring brunch, Easter or Mother’s Day. Though, I have been known to cook a batch and eat from it all throughout the week - adding a poached or fried egg, serving with a few pieces of grilled bread, or topping with a piece of fish. To make this dish just a little bit more fancy with very little cost, finish it with fresh celery leaves and turn in some younger English peas in the pods. Pull the strings from them, then drop a large handful in along with the other fresh peas. They cook in the same amount of time. Eat them like edamame.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 2-3 tablespoons to finish
- 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 4 celery stalks, peeled and finely chopped, divided + ½ cup celery leaves
- 2 cups French lentils
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups fresh peas (use frozen if desired)
- 5-6 English pea pods, strings removed (optional)
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves roughly chopped or if small, left whole
- 1 cup fresh greens, like wild arugula or mizuna, packed
- Maldon salt to taste
Heat a large sauce pan or Dutch oven on medium heat, about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil; heat for 1 minute. Add the onion, garlic and half of the celery. Sauté until soft and translucent 7-8 minutes.
Add the lentils, salt, bay leaf and broth. Stir. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil, about 5 minutes. Bring the heat back down to medium and simmer uncovered 20 minutes until the liquid is almost absorbed and the lentils are almost tender. Stir in the peas and English pea pods and continue cooking 5 minutes more or until the peas, pods and lentils are soft and still bright green. If using frozen peas, add them in 1 minute before the lentils are done to just heat them through and keep their green color. Take off heat. Let cool 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Stir in the remaining celery.
Transfer the lentils to a platter or bowl. Top with the celery leaves, mint and greens. Finish with a drizzle of a couple more tablespoons of olive oil and Maldon salt to taste.