This recipe for delicious French Lentils with Dijon Vinaigrette is easy to make, and makes the perfect side dish!
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Every time I try a new kind of lentil, I fall in love all over again. These delicious little legumes come in a rainbow of colors and flavors, and are used in dishes all over the world. Your local grocery store should carry a few kinds of lentils– at the very least they’ll probably have green or brown lentils.
If, however, you want to branch out into the vast and exciting world of lentil-ness, try buying a bag of fancy-schmancy French green lentils.
And yes, before you ask, the reason French green lentils are different from regular green lentils, is that they come with alluring accents and little tiny berets. Really! (No, not really. Of course not!)
This recipe for French Lentils with Dijon Vinaigrette is vegan, simple to prepare, and bursting with flavor.
What are French Lentils? What about Lentilles du Puy?
The real way you tell the difference between French lentils and regular green lentils, sadly, has nothing to do with accents or berets. (I had you fooled though, right?!)
When you’re shopping for French lentils, the biggest difference you’ll see is size and color. French lentils are much smaller than regular green lentils– about half the size– and they’re also a darker with more color variations.
Sometimes you’ll see them labeled “Lentilles du Puy“– these are from Le Puy, France, and ONLY Le Puy, France. In theory, these are the best of the best, better than any other green lentil– because of the the volcanic soil they’re grown in and also the climate in Le Puy. These are the Champagne to your sparkling wine.
However, Lentilles du Puy are harder to find and more expensive. If you can find them, and want to try the difference, go for it. Otherwise, look for regular French Green Lentils, which should be easier to find.
Quick Tip: Can’t find French green lentils OR Lentilles du Puy? You can substitute regular green or brown lentils in this recipe! Check the Recipe Card Notes for substitution directions.
Making French Lentils with Dijon Vinaigrette
To make French Lentils with Dijon sauce, start by sautéing red onion slices, carrots, and celery in a little bit of olive oil. Add garlic, and then increase the heat and add white wine, stirring 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, salt, and water. Bring everything to a boil, and simmer about 25 minutes.
While your lentils cook, mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette together. Once the lentils finish cooking, take out the bay leaves, add the vinaigrette and stir it all up. Serve a heaping bowl of lentils with a piece of crusty bread as a meal in itself, or as a side dish.
While your guests are eating, you can regale them with all your new-found lentil knowledge! If they aren’t interested, you can simply eat more lentils!
French Lentils with Dijon Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as main dish, 8 as side dish
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 celery sticks, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup French green lentils, rinsed and sorted
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tsp salt, to taste
- 1 TB Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 TB sherry vinegar (or substitute red wine vinegar)
- 1 tsp salt, to taste
In a large saucepan or wok, heat oil on medium until it begins to shimmer.
Add onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1-2 more minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high, and add wine. Allow wine to simmer for 1-2 minutes, then lower heat to medium.
Add lentils, bay leaves, 2 tsp salt, and 2 cups water. Bring mixture to a boil, and simmer about 25 minutes until most of the water has cooked down and the lentils are tender.
While lentils are cooking, mix all vinaigrette ingredients together, and salt to taste.
When lentils are finished cooking, remove bay leaves and stir in vinaigrette.
Serve warm as a side dish, or with a chunk of crusty bread as a main course.
Recipe Variations: Substitute regular green or brown lentils for French lentils. Reduce cook time by about 5 minutes.
Recipe adapted from: Food Network