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french lentils with wild garlic

June 13, 2013

Serves 4
Prep time: 30 minutes

French lentils main pic

On my drive home from work I always pass a huge bank of wild garlic that wafts its smells into my car and makes me think, ‘Mmm.  Really must stop…’.  The trouble is I am usually rushing home to see the girls so I don’t want to hold myself up.  ‘Next time, next time…’

Anyway, last weekend I woke up, sat bolt upright in bed and cried, ‘Shit shit SHIT!  Wild garlic season is nearly over!’

Bundling the girls into the car we sped off to Castell Coch – an elaborate Victorian fantasy castle dreamed up by the eccentric Marquess of Bute – and in the surrounding woods foraged some ripe garlic greens, along with some slightly wilted but still intact flowers.  Having given them a thorough wash (it’s a popular dog walking area, I’m afraid), I shredded the leaves and forked them carefully through warm, freshly dressed Puy lentils.

Castell Coch

Castell Coch – showy, unhistorical, completely great

I feel sorry for omnis sometimes.  They miss out on the significance of a dish like this, that really shouldn’t be relegated to the status of a side but is, in fact, delightful and sufficient all on its own.

French lentils overhead pic


French style / Puy lentils, 250g, washed and rinsed
Celery, one stalk
One carrot
One small onion
One bay leaf
Fresh thyme, 1-2 sprigs
Wild garlic, 10 leaves, plus flowers if you have any
Fresh parsley, one handful, finely chopped

Mustard dressing:

Dijon mustard, 2 heaped tsp
White wine vinegar, 2 tbsp
Extra virgin olive oil, 6 tbsp
Salt and black pepper

Chop the celery stick and carrot into 3-4 large pieces.  Chop the onion in half.  Put the vegetables into a large saucepan along with the lentils, bay and thyme sprig.  Cover with cold water by about one inch, then put on to boil.  Let simmer for 20-25 minute until the lentils are done.  Check every so often to make sure it hasn’t boiled dry.

In the meantime, make the dressing.  Either whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until they emulsify, or put into a small jam jar and shake.  Taste to see if it needs more of anything.  It should be slightly tarter and saltier than you want it – once it’s on the lentils it will be perfect.

Prep the wild garlic leaves: give them a really good wash, then shred into thinnish ribbons.  Wash the flowers and pick them from the stalks.

When the lentils are done fish out all the bits of veg, herbs and bay.  Drain and pour back into the saucepan.  Pour over the dressing (you might not need all of it – add half and see how you get on) and add in the parsley.  Give it a good stir and taste.

Once you’re happy with the seasoning, gently fork in the shredded garlic greens.

Pile into bowls and dress with the wild garlic flowers.

French lentils again

  1. I love lentils and garlic, so this looks like my kind of dish. I love your photo with the flowers too – it’s perfect! I hope one day my food photos look that good. Celeste 🙂

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