Years ago, I made a Warm French Lentils dish on a whim when we had my former boss and his wife over for dinner. We served it along with freshly caught scallops, some greens and a good bottle of wine. The scallops were supposed to be the star of the meal but these lentils literally stole the show. While cooking, they made our house smell so amazing the guests asked if we could skip appetizers and go straight to dinner! Their our mouths were watering!
I have since tweaked the recipe a little, to use turkey bacon instead (which the girls preferred and is easy to get nitrate free!). The recipe below for French Lentils has become a regular on our rotation and a meal the girls request often. So popular it was even requested as their birthday dinner meal and as a Christmas eve dinner.
There are many lentils out there but the best lentils to use for this is are Puy. Puy lentils are very small and dark in color and are from an area of France called Le Puy in the Auvergne (hence the name). They are said to be from where the best lentils in France are grown. I have tried the recipe with other lentils and while it worked, I’ve found the Puy lentils really are the best for this type of recipe (Vive la France!).
While the fragrance and delight my daughters get from this should be enough for me to also love this meal, another key thing for me is that it can easily be made vegetarian as well. My husband and I don’t eat meat, only the occasional piece of fish (though the smells of cooked turkey has been tempting at times!). This meal can easily be made in two pans or cooked for the most part without the bacon, scooping a few spoonfuls for the vegetarian plates before adding the bacon back in for the final 5-10 minutes of cooking time. I have also been surprised at how well this dish freezes. We often make a double batch and store in serving size containers for quick future meals for the girls. Or make it a night or two in advance as the flavors will intensify while it sits in the fridge.