Provencal Lentils

Obviously I loved every place that hubby and I visited in France, but I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Provence.  I’ve wanted to visit Provence since I was a little girl.  I papered the inside of my closet door with pictures of Europe, which seemed to be disproportionately pictures of Provence (although there were a good number of Alpine villages thrown in there too) and I would stare at the pictures every day and dream of visiting them in person.  When hubby and I finally made that trip last fall, Provence was everything I imagined it to be and more.  I loved the hot sun, the lush grapevines, the sleepy hill towns, the bustling markets, the towering Pont du Gard and the spires of the Palais des Papes in Avignon, and the relaxed outdoor cafes where – even if it’s not on the menu – you can always get pastis.  And of course, I loved the flavors of Provence – the tomato-pepper-eggplant trio that makes up ratatouille, the briny olive taste of pistou (I even had a risotto that seemed to have olive tapenade mixed in – outrageous – note to self: must recreate) and the quintessential herbs de Provence, naturally.

With these lentils, I am putting a Provencal twist on a very simple, rustic dish (which is kind of Provencal in and of itself, if you think about it).  If you’re simply going to cook up a pot of lentils – and why not? – herbs de Provence impart a heady lavender and thyme flavor.  And I went one better than that, even, by adding a teaspoon of fennel seed to give a whiff of the licorice aroma of pastis. In one bite of these lentils, I felt as though I had stopped by the Arles market to collect a big bunch of aromatic dried herbs and then sauntered into a corner cafe, sat down and requested pastis, sil vous plait.  Not a bad trip for a Friday night in my kitchen.

Provencal Lentils

1 cup Urban Garden mixed lentils (or brown lentils)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence (substitute thyme)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

  • In a heavy pot, bring the lentils and the vegetable broth to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cover.  Allow lentils to cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  (Nota Baker: It’s really important that you use brown lentils here.  French green lentils take forever to cook – although you can use them if you have all day – and red lentils will break down into a delicious mush, which is great but not what we’re going for here.  The lentils I had were a mix of green, brown and red and so there were several textures represented.  That’s great, but if you can only use one, go for brown.)
  • Once the lentils have fully cooked (taste a small bite just to make sure) drain off the remainder of the vegetable broth – but don’t get too overenthusiastic with the draining; we want the lentils to be a little loose so some remaining broth is a good thing.
  • Return the lentils to the pot and stir in a teaspoon of mustard powder, a teaspoon of herbs de Provence (or you can substitute thyme if you don’t have herbs de Provence), and either 1/2 or 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds.  (I used a full teaspoon, which tasted fantastic to me, but hubby isn’t wild about the flavor of fennel seeds – he liked that it was in this dish but would have preferred it to be a little subtler.  So I’ll reduce it for his sake next time I make this, but if you like fennel seeds, then a full teaspoon will be very nice indeed.)
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve over greens, buttered baguette slices, or simply in a bowl.  Yum.

Source: Covered In Flour

Lentil and Vegetable Soup


Organic French lentils, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots and kombu – what’s not to love?  I made a pot of this soup before going to the spa on Sunday, and it was the perfect dinner to come home to – after treating myself to a lovely massage, I continued to treat myself to a delicious, healthy dinner.  Now that’s what I call pampering!

Lentil Vegetable Soup

1 quart organic chicken or vegetable stock
1 quart water
1/2 cup French lentils
2 strips kombu (sea vegetable, available in the Asian aisle of your market)
3 carrots, sliced in thin rounds
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1/2 teaspoon kelp granules (optional)
kosher salt and fresh pepper
pinch of cumin, oregano and thyme
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

  • Bring water and stock to a boil in a large stockpot.  Add lentils and kombu strips (break them in half before adding them, to make them easier to eat) and cook on a low boil for 45 minutes, until lentils have begun to soften.
  • Add vegetables and season with kelp granules, salt and pepper, dried herbs and spices, and continue to cook until lentils have completely softened and the carrots and zucchini are cooked through as well, about 10-15 more minutes.  Stir in crushed tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes or so to allow the flavors to combine.

Source: Adapted from Sara Snow