French Style Lentils

French style lentils cooked with carrots, shallots, olive oil, and topped with whole grain mustard, chives, and some creme fraiche.

Lentils get a bad rep for being bland, muddy, and mushy. But they don’t have to be that way. Here’s a dish of lentils prepared in the classic French style—straight up, with simple aromatics and a little attention to detail. Cooking the lentils in a mixture of water, carrots, garlic, and bay leaves ensures plenty of base flavor. To keep the lentils from overcooking and to preserve their toothsome texture, we rinse the cooked lentils under cold water, washing out excess starch and stopping the cooking process. We fold the lentils and carrots back into a combination of rendered shallots, wine, stock, and a little more oil. To give some welcome brightness and a little kick, we finish the dish with a bit of whole grain mustard and a splash of red wine vinegar. This is a simple, hearty dish that’s a great introduction to this versatile legume—and a perfect way to stay warm on those bitter winter nights. You can use black (beluga) lentils, brown lentils, green lentils, or lentils du Puy for this recipe. Do not use red lentils or lentils with their hulls removed.

French Style Lentils

French style lentils cooked with carrots, shallots, olive oil, and topped with whole grain mustard, chives, and some creme fraiche.
Serves 4
  • 1 cup black lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed lightly
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons sherry wine or dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard, plus extra for serving
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  1. Bring lentils, water, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt in 12-inch skillet to simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, skimming any foam off top as it rises to surface, until lentils are just cooked through and have slight bite, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain lentils in colander set over large bowl, reserving carrots; discard garlic and bay leaves. Chop carrots into 1/4-inch pieces and set aside. Wipe skillet clean with paper towel. Run cold water over lentils until water runs clear, about 3 changes of water. Drain lentils and set aside.  
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Stir in shallots and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in wine and cook until liquid has nearly evaporated, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth and remaining 2 tablespoons oil, bring mixture to simmer, and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is smooth and combined, about 30 seconds. Stir in lentils and reserved carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are heated through and well coated, about 2 minutes longer. Off heat, stir in mustard and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chives and serve, passing extra mustard and vinegar.

Nutrition facts:

1 serving 276 calories 12 grams of protein 27 grams of carbohydrates 12 grams of fiber 4 grams of sugar 241 milligrams of sodium 526 milligrams of potassium 14 grams of fat ( 3 grams of saturated fat 8 grams of monounsaturated fat 1 grams of polyunsaturated fat ) 9 milligrams of cholesterol

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