And about those lentils... I know it sounds strange to give thumbs up to a cookbook I don't even have, but I owe those impeccable lentils to Judith Barrett, the author of Fagioli: the Bean Cuisine of Italy. I saw her recipe for lentils in Boston Globe a while ago and that's how I learned to cook perfect lentils -- whole beautiful little beads of earthy goodness, not mushy yet perfectly tender. The trick is to not cover the pan, cook them on very low, and add salt only when they are almost tender. Adding salt late in the cooking of beans is a common trick, but cooking them uncovered is the tip I haven't seen in other books. In my experience, lentils and beans taste best when cooked a day in advance and stored in their liquid.
1 Lb brussel sprouts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey (optional)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Cut off the ends of brussel sprouts and cut them in half. Place them in a baking dish large enough to hold them in one layer and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Roast in the bottom third of the oven for 20 minutes. Stir, drizzle with honey and vinegar (if using), and roast another 5 minutes.
2 cups French green lentils (du Puy lentils)
6 cups water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter (divided)
1 large onion sliced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped
- Combine lentils and water in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover immediately. Turn down the heat to low and cook at a bare simmer until almost tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add wine and season generously with salt. Cook another 5 minutes. Take off heat.
- Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp of oil and 1 Tbsp of butter. When melted, add the onions and generous pinch of salt and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
- Drain the lentils reserving the cooking liquid.
- Add the lentils and 1 Tbsp butter to the skillet with onions and mix well. Keep warm over low heat.
- Put the liquid back into the lentil pot and reduce by half over high heat, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the mustard until dissolved, then whipped cream. Taste and correct seasoning.
- Serve lentils topped with mustard cream sauce and brussel sprouts.