Puy Lentils. I know, boring, right? You bring them home with the best intentions and promptly bury them in the hippy-dippy, healthfood ghetto of the pantry. Which means, if you’re like me, you always have lentils in the cupboard. Open the door if you don’t believe me, you’ll see them staring back at you – bland and brown. Or brownish-green or brownish-yellow, depending on how you squint your eyes. Lentils are the sparrows of the legume world. However, as with many humble ingredients, there’s a pleasing lilt in their tweet. These little pellets of goodness are chock-full of protein and able to carry serious flavor. Reason enough for a little culinary ghetto busting.
It’s also why, if I found myself destined for a deserted island, I’d hoard Puy lentils before penne or potatoes. I could live long and prosperous eating bowls of them with nothing more than some salt, pepper, and very good olive oil. Most deserted islands have EVOO, right?
Caramelized Puy Lentils
Like I said, lentils don’t need much more than very good olive oil, but sometimes you want to make them extra-special. Caramelized lentils are extra special.
I’ve been cooking from a new cookbook from Naomi Pomeroy – Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking. Her Caramelized Lentils du Puy caught my eye right away because they’re uniquely twice-cooked. First, they’re boiled in a red wine broth which brings a fruity depth to the earthiness we typically associate with lentils. Then they’re caramelized in a red wine, tomato, and anchovy glaze until they develop crisp edges and a surprising amount of umami. My list of deserted island essentials just got longer. GREG