Just in time for the latest cookbook club potluck, I prepared this French Lentil Salad with Crispy Bacon and Vegetables. I bet you could make this with regular lentils, but using the French variety elevates this dish slightly, making it more decadent and special.
We were reading An Everlasting Feast: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler. She cooked a lot with lentils and beans. She used a lot of parsley. Majority of her recipes came straight from her well-stocked pantry. I tried to do the same, using what I already had on hand, brightening the dish with parsley and briny capers. I think Tamar would be proud….accept for the part where by mistake I poured out the broth from the lentils, instead of saving this flavorful, deep liquid and making soup out of it the next day. I’m sorry, Tamar.
French Lentil Salad with Crispy Bacon and Vegetables
1 1/2 cup French lentils, rinsed
1 shallot, quartered
3 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
4 bacon slices, diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons capers, roughly chopped
zest and juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
1 clove garlic, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1. Place lentils, shallot, garlic, and bay leaf in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer lentils until al dente.
2. Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
3. Drain the lentils and discard shallot, garlic, and bay leaf. If there is too much bacon fat in the pan, skim off some of it. Add the lentils to the bacon fat in the pan and gently stir.
4. Stir in the vegetables into the cooked lentils.
You can make the dressing separately and drizzle it over the salad, or stir everything together directly in the skillet. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed, with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
5. Garnish with bacon right before serving.
The salad keeps well in the refrigerator over night. It also heats up very well, so feel free to enjoy it cold or warm. I almost want to call the salad vegetarian, but the bacon gets in the way.