French lentils, also known as lentils du Puy, or lentills du Puy or French green lentils, are heartier and firmer than the average brown lentil. This Examiner found them at the Lexington Co-op (807 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo 886-COOP) in the bulk section. French lentils hold their shape well and take a little longer to cook than other lentils.
Lentils du Puy are low in fat and cholesterol, and in one-quarter cup there is 15 grams of fiber as well as 13 grams of protein, making them an inexpensive source, non-animal source of fiber and protein.
French lentils were originally grown in the volcanic soils of Puy in France, but now they’re also grown in North America and Italy. Lentils du Puy are especially good in salads since they remain firm after cooking and have a rich flavor.
Basic French lentils recipe
1 cup French lentils, rinsed and picked through
3 cups water or vegetable broth
1 small sweet yellow or red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter (if cooking vegan, omit butter and use 2 Tbsp. olive or canola oil)
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
1 ribs celery, strings removes and cut into small dice
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste
In 4-quart stock pot, heat oil and melt butter on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add onion and saute until it becomes soft. Add garlic and saute for a 1 to 2 minutes. Add celery and carrot and saute for an additional 5 minutes.
Turn heat back up to medium-high and add water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and add French lentils and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
If serving as a soup, ladle directly into bowls an serve with crusty bread and butter.
If using in a salad, drain off the liquid, but save the cooking liquid for storing the French lentils so that they do not dry out. Yield: 6 servings
Rachael’s Recipe Notes:
Beef or chicken broth may be substituted for the vegetable broth, if desired.
This makes a fantastic soup with a bit of fresh spinach (about 2 cups washed and torn leaves, stems removed). At the end of cooking, before you add the salt and pepper, add 2 additional cups vegetable stock or water, then the spinach. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Kale, chard or beet greens can also be substituted. If using Kale or chard, do not remove from heat immediately. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat, keep covered and let stand an additional 5 minutes.
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