French Lentil Stew - Made in Provence September 23 2016 by Simone Denny

I love this dish. It is a flavorsome hearty dish that is a meal in itself or perfect as a side dish. Although I had made this dish before back in Sydney, I thoroughly enjoyed making it here in Provence on a balmy later summer evening with a glass of rose in hand, in a kitchen full of beautiful fresh herbs and ingredients – I was truly in the creative cooking zone. 

            

This recipe uses French lentils, which are also known as le puy lentils. They are green lentils but look like small black lentils when you buy them. Puy lentils are an excellent source of vegetarian protein for those of us who don’t eat meat (they are also a good source of iron). Lentils are a rich source of fibre and they help to stabilize blood sugar. They are a great source of folate and manganese (excellent for cardiovascular health).

This is my own take on traditional French lentil stew. I love the use of red wine vinegar and salt – which you can adjust for your own taste. Often this recipe calls for herbs de Provence – which a mixture of herbs from the Provence region. If you have this you can use it in place of the dried herbs I suggest below (use 2 teaspoons for the below recipe). Alternatively I use a combination of fresh and dry herbs that are very tasty.

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 small leek
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of diced mushrooms
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups of French Lentils (also known as puy lentils)
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil – roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint - chopped
  • Chevre/ goats cheese or labne for garnish (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Rinse lentils through a strainer and ensure any stones are removed, then set lentils aside
  2. In a large pot heat olive oil and add garlic, onion and leek, sauté for a minute.
  3. Add carrots and mushrooms and sauté for another 5 minutes or until vegetables soften.
  4. Add lentils and diced tomatoes to the pot and mix through the vegetables
  5. Add dried herbs and half the fresh herbs (keep some fresh herbs for serving)
  6. Add vegetable stock, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and bring to the boil
  7. Once at the boil turn down the temperature and fast simmer for approximately 20 minutes.
  8. Don’t overcook the lentils - they should be just cooked through when ready to serve (add additional stock if need be). As this is a stew there should be some extra juice/stock when serving.
  9. Transfer lentils to a serving dish and garnish with a generous serving of fresh mint and basil. Sprinkle with goats cheese/chevre or pine nuts to serve.

Enjoy!