Puy Lentils with Pinenuts

Puy Lentils with Pinenuts

Puy Lentils with Pinenuts
Lentils have a bit of a bad reputation, but at the risk of sounding like a certain hippy, I think lentils are really great!

Puy lentils are a lovely little French lentil which have a softer, lighter skin and a more gentle nutty flavour than their big bold orange cousins.  There is absolutely no reason why you can't have this dish for a light supper, as a side dish to a fancy main or even as a salad – in fact I tend to make this a bit like a basic risotto base then add flavours later.

Puy Lentils with Pinenuts200 grams Puy Lentils; dry, unsoaked but rinsed in lots of cold water
½  teaspoon salt
500mls ice cold water
1 garlic clove, squished
50 grams pinenuts
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
Pinch of nutmeg
A few herbs – oregano, parsley or thyme being my herb de jour
Juice and zest of a lemon

Once the lentils are rinsed really rather well and they are all slippery and shiny add them to a small saucepan and cover with icy cold water. 

Over a low heat, bring the water up to a simmer then let the lentils bubble away for about 10 minutes, then add the salt.  This allows the skins to cook a little before being salted which, so I am told, makes them softer and more easily digested.  Continue to boil for 5 minutes once the salt is added.
Remove from the heat and drain off any excess liquid – apart from anything else it is a murky and unattractive colour!

Decant the lentils to a small bowl and squeeze over the juice and zest of a lemon.

In the saucepan, add fennel seeds and nutmeg and warm through until fragrant then add the olive oil and butter before adding the garlic, then bring it to a bubble.  Add the pinenuts and herbs and allow to sizzle a little before returning the lentils to the pan and cooking for a further 5-10 minutes. 

Do not overcook or they will be a squidgy mess (think lentil pâté) you want there to still be a little bit of bite to the lentils and for the herbs and lemon to still be fresh.

Puy Lentils with PinenutsOnce the lentils are al dente, cover the saucepan with foil, turn off the heat and leave them to sit for a few minutes before serving.    

I have been particularly perverse and served my lentils with rare fillet steak here, as I think too often lentils are tolerated only as a vegetarian offering - they are great with meaty flavours too!
Enjoy with scallops, fish, roast veges or even just a scattering of parmesan cheese.