I always say that French lentils du Puy are the Cadillac of lentils. Simple brown lentils or fall-apart-in-your-mouth red lentils have an open invitation to my dinner plate. However, there’s something extra special about French lentils du Puy. They have a painted-on, eggshell appearance that gives them a natural beauty. And like all lentils, they don’t have to soak before using. That makes them an easy, weeknight meal.
Once cooked, French lentils retain their disc-like shape and slightly firm texture. It makes them perfect for adding to salads or serving all on their own since they have a bite and density that is lacking in some of their lentil-y brethren. Finally, the flavor of French lentils du Puy has an earthy, metallic taste that shines with other dense flavors.
My favorite way to cook them is with caramelized onions and toasted pistachios on a bed of sautéed kale, and often with a side of baked fries. The sweetness of the onions and salty richness of the nuts combines beautifully with the tinny lentils. On top of garlicky sautéed kale, it becomes a filling and simple meal that is loaded with good-for-you things like fiber, iron, and protein. As an alternative, I also enjoy these lentils alongside a raw kale salad. Let’s face it, lentils and dark, leafy greens just play well together.
Oh, and by the way, don’t let the Cadillac comparison fool you. The whole meal is inexpensive to make. I buy French lentils in the bulk bin at my natural grocery store.
Also included in this recipe is that often forgotten nut, the pistachio. Pistachios are one of my favorites, but somehow I’d never eaten one until I moved to California in my twenties. After that, I made up for lost time. For cooking purposes, I prefer to buy them shelled. That way, you don’t have to open shells for ten minutes before finishing dinner. However, sometimes I only have the in-shell ones on hand. (They are a great snack between meals.)
When opening shells, you’ll occasionally come across a stubborn pistachio with only the tiniest opening. Using fingers alone, it can be difficult to crack them open and get to that salty sweet pistachio inside. In those situations, here’s my trick. Use one of the leftover shells to squeeze inside of the tiny opening. Then rotate the shell remnant to the side in a twisting motion. It will crack the pistachio open easily.
This recipe has been updated from my old post on Easy, Any Day Lentils.