In a way, one of my favorite recipes is a souvenir from Paris. I first had this spiced lentil dish in a cafe in the Marais district called the Du Sergent. I had never had lentils served this way before and was impressed with its simple deliciousness. I couldn't get enough of it.
Not long afterwards I discovered the recipe that has become a sort of tradition in our household, and never fails to remind me of the wonderful experiences associated with it.
The recipe is from the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library of cookbooks in Festive Entertaining. And the simple dish really does make an occasion feel festive. It's also very easy to prepare.
I brought home my paper placemat from the cafe as a souvenir. It's on a heavier weight paper more like a museum poster, and was easy to roll up and transport in my suitcase. (Believe me, I have done wierder things.)
I also bought a small Vietri bowl when I got back home especially for serving lentils in which is quite like the one in which they were served in the cafe. So you can see what a sort of big deal I made over it all. We'll always have Paris.
I also recently came across these wonderful antique wooden spoons that have a fabulous patina and that are now part of my kitchen antiques collection.
Ladle handle detail.
These very soft all cotton towel/napkins are currently at Potterybarn 4/16.00. You'll be seeing a lot of them here on the blog. They come in a couple more stripe colors.
In a deep saucepan, combine the lentils and bay leaf. Add water to cover by 3 inches (7.5 cm) and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the salt, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender but still firm. Green lentils can take as few as 15 minutes, so keep testing. When the lentils are done, drain well and place in a bowl. Add the 1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) olive oil and the lemon juice, toss well, and set aside.
In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the 3 tablespoons oil. Add the onions and saute until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, and lemon zest and continue to saute until the garlic is soft and the flavors are blended, 2-3 minutes longer.
Add the cooked onion mixture to the lentils and mix well. Fold in the mint and season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature. Serves 6.
*For the best texture, make this dish no more than several hours in advance. If you make it ahead, fold in half of the mint, then add the rest just before serving.
I hope you have a delicious weekend!
Ciao! for now!
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