Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ode to Vinaigrettes

Hello, is anybody there? We hope so, and we've been gone so long we're ringing the old metal dinner bell extra loud to bring you on back. So gather 'round the table once again, because we're hungry.

We have an absolutely delicious bread recipe that we're itching to float on through the wires to your awaiting table, but you'll have to wait since we made a different batch of something especially fine that is bumping the bread to a future post - possibly next week so don't despair.

There's a genius lurking in the vast, flavorful, and rich French cuisine that has become a fast friend. We like it so much we're trying to keep from drizzling it on pretty much anything that passes from the skillet to our awaiting mouths. But let me tell you, lately this almost requires tying the hands behind the back: O, Vinaigrette, we love thee so.

If you're anything like us vinaigrettes are an oft-chosen dressing for green salad, absolutely delicious to be sure. But the French have given Vinaigrette her due and allowed her to splash over the bean, the loaf, and many a varied veggie. This really is a cause to celebrate, we promise. You'll be amazed at the spark of tart magic that is created when it's doused on asparagus or the humble chickpea. Friends, this is when the show begins I tell you.

So, we happily let Vinaigrette wrap her slick and amazing little arms around an army of lentils and, voila, this was something blessed. Our two-year-0ld daughter/granddaughter ate half of Alice's serving for lunch today. What can we say? She is part French.

French Lentils with Vinaigrette
Serves 6.

A quick note on lentils that will make you even more eager to serve them up: they are absolutely loaded with protein. Classified as a veggie, they are second only to the soybean in this protein category. Keep the added fats low and toss them with some veggies for fare that is beguilingly healthy and a versatile, unique, and surprisingly pretty side dish. Then pop them in the microwave the next day to take off the chill and they make a simply munchable main player for lunch.

1 cup lentils, sorted and rinsed
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt, divided
2 medium carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 shallot clove, finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
Sea salt, for serving

In a medium saucepan, bring the lentils, water, and bay leaf to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in ¼ teaspoon salt and then simmer, covered, for another 4 to 5 minutes, until tender but not falling apart.

While the lentils simmer, warm a large skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and 1/8 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just softened, about 7 to 9 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, 4 tablespoons vinegar, mustard, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Briskly whisk in the olive oil.

When the lentils are ready, drain them and pick out the bay leaf. Pour them into the skillet with the vegetables and toss with the vinaigrette and parsley. Cook over low heat, stirring gently, until heated through. Stir in a splash of red wine vinegar, if desired, and serve warm, with sea salt for sprinkling.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

Yum. I can't wait to try this. Thanks for sharing. Alice, thanks for your comment the other day on my blog. Isn't the blogging world fun? I love catching up on what everyone is doing. Next time your in town give me a call. I'd love to see you!