Lentils, if you haven't cooked with them a lot before, are something that you must try. It seems that lately, lentils have become one of my go to main meals. So saturated in nutrients and bearing a striking resemblance to little pebbles, once cooked in simmering water or stock, they're so easily made delicious.
I like them best with a hearty scoop of Dijon mustard and a splash of Sherry vinegar mixed in just before serving. It gives the lentils a slight, yet welcome tang. I also like to add seasonal roasted vegetables and sometimes I'll add meat (pork, I find, works especially well) to make them even heartier. I like to cook them just until they are cooked through so that they have a great texture to them.
This recipe has an unsuspecting addition of tomatillos, which I happened to have on hand and I roasted them down before pureeing and mixing them in, which gave the dish some extra body. Beautifully sweet heirloom cherry tomatoes were also roasted down until their sweetness concentrated and they got delightfully jammy. I also used the zest and juice of a Meyer lemon, a softer, muskier relative of the lemon (of course, regular lemon would work just fine here too). Fresh herbs finished everything off and the meal was served right away, while everything was warm. Alternatively, bits of leftovers would make a fantastic addition to a next-day lunchtime..
Meyer Lemon Lentils
- 1 cup lentils, preferably French lentils, rinsed
- Just enough water to cover the lentils, additional might be needed
- 1 leek - just the white part, cleaned thoroughly and sliced into half-moons
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
- 1 TBS Dijon mustard
- 1 generous splash Sherry Vinegar (balsamic also works well)
- The zest and juice of 1 Meyer Lemon
- 3 tomatillos
- Fresh parsley and mint, washed and finely chopped
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 and place the tomatillos and cherry tomatoes on a silpat, parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until the tomatoes soften and start to brown. Note: the cherry tomatoes will probably roast faster keep an eye on them. Once done, take them off the pan and set them aside until ready to use and continue roasting the tomatillos until very soft. Once the tomatillos are done, set aside until cool enough to handle. Using a blender, puree the tomatillos until they are a thick, sauce-like consistency.
In a hot skillet, drizzle olive oil and add the leeks. Heat until softened and add the lentils and just enough water to cover them. Sprinkle in salt and allow the lentils to simmer gently. You may need to add additional water if the lentils absorb it all before they are done cooking. You'll know the lentils are done when they are softened but still have the slightest bit of bite to them. At that point, add the mustard, vinegar and pureed tomatillos. Stir to combine. Add the Meyer lemon zest and just enough juice so that you can taste a little lemon but without it being too strong. Taste for seasoning and then dot the cherry tomatoes on top just before serving and finish with fresh herbs. Serve immediately.
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