French Lentils with Crème Fraîche and Chives

Vermont Creamery provided ingredients for this recipe.

frenchlentils.jpg

Here's a recipe to prove that the lowly lentil can be fancy and sophisticated, and really delicious. You could serve this for a casual dinner party, with a simple salad and a bottle of wine––won't you seem chic!? But they are easy (and cheap) enough to cook for a night when you're feeding only yourself. If you're lucky, you'll have leftovers to eat for lunch: warm them and toss them with grainy mustard, more olive oil, a little vinegar and some peppery greens––they're reinvented! And the extra crème fraîche and chives you have left will be as beautiful on scrambled eggs or omelets as they are on this elegant bowl of lentils.

French Lentils with crème fraîche and Chives

serves 3 as a main course, 4-6 as a side dish

  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 large shallot
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 pound (1 heaping cup) French lentils
  • sprig thyme 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • crème fraîche, for serving
  • chopped chives, for serving

1. Cut the celery, carrot, and shallot into very fine dice, nearly as small as a lentil: this is your mirepoix. In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté the mirepoix in 1 Tablespoon olive oil until the vegetables brown a little. Add the wine, and simmer until it reduces by half. 

2. Add the lentils, a sprig of time, and 2 cups of water. Simmer until the lentils are tender but firm, and much of the water is gone. If the water disappears before the lentils are tender, add a bit more and keep simmering. Er on the side of undercooking when you turn off the stove.

3. Season the pot of cooked lentils with salt and freshly ground pepper, and the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive. Cover the pot and let the seasoning settle in for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm lentils in shallow bowls with a generous dollop of crème fraîche and liberal sprinkling of chopped chives on each bowlful.