You’d think, having been entirely or mostly vegetarian for 25 years, I’d be pretty au fait with lentils. Not so. I reckon I’ve got red lentils pretty much sussed. And the other main kind here in the UK seems to be green lentils. So far, so straightforward. The problems arrive with lentilles vertes, which are apparently not the same as green lentils despite the name. And Puy lentils/lentils de Puy, which look exactly like lentilles vertes but are more expensive.
According to Wikipedia Le Puy green lentils seem to be basically green lentils that grow in a particular region of France, and therefore have Protected Designation of Origin status. They are described as being small and “dark speckled blue-green” in colour.
This description is pretty much spot on for the lentilles vertes (see photo, above), which is what I ultimately bought having inspected all the various lentil options for far too long one day in the shops recently. I should have just got a bag of each and had done with it.
The next challenge, of course, was to find some yummy way of cooking them. Lentils have a distinct, earthy flavour, that I think complements woody herbs and wintery vegetables. I decided to combine them with mushrooms, thyme, and plenty of garlic to create a delicious stew. We ate this with pasta, but it would also be good with rice or polenta. I had the leftovers on toast the next day, and that was pretty fabulous, too.
I was a bit nervous serving this, as DH is often a vocal opponent of lentils, and Kipper will only eat mushrooms with her eyes closed (don’t ask) so there was a good chance it could go horribly wrong. Fortunately though, DH loved it and even Kipper scoffed it down – although she did close her eyes to eat the mushrooms…
This served the three of us with a portion left for my lunch the next day. So, serves 3-4. Yum.
- 2 medium onions
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 100g lentilles vertes
- 400ml hot vegetable stock
- 10g dried wild mushrooms
- 100g fresh mushrooms
- 2-3tbsp olive oil
- 0.5 tsp dried thyme
- Peel the onions and slice thinly. Peel the garlic and cut each clove into 3-4 pieces.
- Heat the 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions and garlic for a few minutes until softened.
- Add the lentilles vertes to the pan and stir to coat in the oil. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover, and cook for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, soak the dried mushrooms in around 150ml of hot water. Thinly slice the fresh mushrooms.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan and add the fresh mushrooms. Cook over a medium heat until softened and beginning to brown.
- Drain the dried mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Chop finely and add to the fresh mushrooms together with the thyme. Cook for a few minutes, then pour in the soaking liquid through a strainer to catch any bits of grit. Allow the liquid to bubble away until it is nearly all gone. Remove from the heat.
- Once the lentilles vertes have been cooking for half an hour, add the mushroom mixture and stir well. Continue cooking on a very low heat for another 15-20 minutes, until the lentilles vertes are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Serve with pasta, rice, polenta, or crusty bread.
- Halloumi, Puy Lentil and Beet Salad from Kevin at The Crafty Larder
- Lentil spaghetti from Laura at Knead Whine
- Savoy Lentils from Madeleine at From the Healthy Heart
- Mujaddara from Diana at Little Sunny Kitchen
- Slow cooked, low fat lentil curry from Emily at A Mummy Too
- Lentil lasagne from Emma at Supper in the Suburbs
- Mexican lentil tacos from Mabintu at Recipes from a Pantry
Don’t forget to order your copy of Helen’s delicious Pesach – available now as ebook, pdf or softcover book.