This recipe is not one I would have chosen for myself. It's out of Gourmet, probably an issue from 2006, when they were recapping past dishes they'd featured. This one is from 1991. I saw the photo and knew my husband would love it. Fresh off our honeymoon in Europe, where we'd both fallen in love with France, I was struck by the text "taste of home-style France" and "bistro classic". I ripped it out. What was one more recipe, right?
A few months into our life in Vienna, I decided to make it. I searched high and low for dried lentils but could not find them in my district. At the time, I did not know how to say lentils in German. When I chanced upon canned lentils, I decided to skip the first step and go with it. The dish was a smashing success with my husband. Sausage. Lentils. Vinegar. This was heaven to him. He declared it his new favorite meal. I liked it, but that was it. I made it a few more times during our stay in Vienna, each time I liked it less. Then it got pushed aside when we returned to the States.
At the giant farmers market here in Atlanta I came across canned lentils one day and remembered I should make it for him again. Probably for his birthday. I found myself dreading dinner that night. Why I did not go look for dried lentils right then is beyond me. The canned lentils are soft and soggy, swimming in all that canning liquid.
A few months ago, I made it again with dried lentils. It was a world of difference. The firmer texture of the lentils changed the entire dish for me. This is a new house favorite, even my (nearly) 3 year old goes back for seconds. I've also learned that when I need to shortcut this, Trader Joe's carries a vacuum pack of prepared lentils that is perfect for this.
Warm Lentil Salad with Sausage
- 2 cups French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 6 cups water
- 1 California bay leaf or 2 Turkish
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
- 2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch dice (1 cup)
- 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4 inch dice (1 cup)
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3/4 pound smoked kielbasa or other sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 1/4 finely chopped fresh parsley
1. Bring lentils, water and bay leaf to a boil in a 2- to 3- quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of salt, then simmer lentils, covered, until tender but not falling apart, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. While lentils simmer, cook onions, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon slat and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in 2 Tablespoons oil in a 12- inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just softened, 7 to 9 minutes.
3. Make vinaigrette by whisking together vinegar, mustard and remaining sat and pepper in a bowl. Add remaining 1/2 cup oil in a slow stream, whisking until blended well.
4. Drain lentils in a colander, discarding bay leaf and return to saucepan along with vegetable mixture and vinaigrette. Cook over low heat, stirring, until heated through, Keep warm, covered.
5. Brown kielbasa in cleaned and dried 12-inch skillet (in 2 batches if necessary), turning over once, about 2 minutes per batch. Stir kielbasa and parsley into lentils.
*If using prepared lentils, skip step one and begin with step 2.