Monday, February 13, 2012

French Lentils with Apple Braised Brussel Sprouts

Red, yellow, green, brown: a rainbow of lentils. What's the difference? Without going into the delicate nuances of each legume, let's take a look at one that isn't in this color scheme. French lentils. Sometimes French lentils and brown or green lentils are synonymous names for the same bean, but the kind I'm talking about are the Lentilles du Puy. That's right, the fancy kind. And if you ask David Lebovitz, a reliable source of French cooking expertise, these puppies are the "caviar" of lentils.

Their flavor is more robust than other lentils, a trait Monsieur Lebovitz contributes to their volcanic environment (um sure ok, I'll take his word for it). Whatever the source of deliciousness, I am now including these as a pantry staple. Other lentils get mushy very easily, but these hold up well in texture and taste. Rarely can I eat lentils alone unless I'm in the mood for a nice cup of dahl, yet I scarfed down a whole bucket of these in this recipe. Maybe scarf isn't the appropriate verb, because it felt as though eating such a delicate pulse called for delicate means. So with a dainty fork in hand and pinky raised, I savored each bite.

Though I already talked about my current apple juice phase, here is another recipe using the same technique with the same fabulous results. Very simply braised brussel sprouts finished with a touch of jus de pomme and a petite smudge of moutarde. So light, so lovely. Serve under the lentils with a side of roasted fingerlings...Tres tres bon.

French Lentils with Apple Braised Brussel Sprouts
Makes: 2 servings
Cook time: 40 minutes


For the Lentils
1/2 c. French lentils
1/3 c. yellow onion, diced
1/2 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 c. veggie stock or broth
1/4 c. red wine

For the Brussel Sprouts
3/4 c. veggie stock or broth, divided
2 c. brussel sprouts, stems removed and thinly sliced
1/4 c. apple juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard


In a medium sauce pan, combine all of the ingredient for the lentils except for the wine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium or medium low (depending on the stove). Simmer lentils at a slow boil until most of the liquid has evaoprated, about 25-30 minutes, covering the pot for about 5 minutes toward the end. When there is just a bit of broth left, add the wine and cook an additional 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the lentils are nearly done, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and bring about half of the broth to a boil. Add brussel sprouts and lower heat to medium. Braise about 5 minutes or until liquid has almost evaporated. Add another 1/4 cup of broth, apple juice and mustard. Cook until sprouts are tender and liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.