Ina Garten’s Warm French Lentils

I watch quite a bit of Food Network when I don’t really want to search for anything to watch, so it’s whatever comes up. One of the shows I tend to like best is Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa, at least when she prepares simple rustic cuisine.

So the other day, I saw her make a warm French lentil salad and had to give it a go myself. It’s super easy. Most curious about it is boiling the lentils with a whole peeled onion stabbed with cloves and a turnip cut in half (which are both discarded after cooking).

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A few key things to emphasize in terms of the preparation.

  1. Brining the lentils to a boil and immediately turning down to a light simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes, yielded perfect al dente lentils, ideal for a salad dish.
  2. Yes, only 3 minutes for the carrots and leek, then another minute with the garlic (I used 4 cloves). Remove and let sit in the same pan until the lentils are done.
  3. Soon as the lentils are done, drain and add them to the veggies, then stir in the dressing while it’s still hot.
  4. If you taste it immediately it’s going to taste salty. Patience. After it settles, it’ll be perfect.
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I found salmon to be a nice pairing, and you don’t even need to start it until the lentils are done and resting. Preheat your oven to 425. Pan fry the salmon on medium high, skin side down for 3 minutes. Then season with salt & pepper and drizzle some EVOO, and put the pan in the oven for 6 minutes.

Bon appétit!


  1. gabkad on December 28, 2014 at 15:07

    Richard, do you ever use tarragon? I remember back in the late 70s it was everywhere, especially in lentil salad and chicken. Now, not so much. I like it but seems to be out of fashion these days.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 28, 2014 at 15:19

      I adore Tarragon. I’ve done a number of dishes (chicken, fish, and chicken stock reductions, primarily) I’ve posted here using it, always with this caveat:

      Less is More. :)

  2. gabkad on December 28, 2014 at 18:19

    True. Same as dried fenugreek leaves.

  3. John on December 31, 2014 at 06:55

    There was a time that the only show I watched was Good Eats. I learned more practical (and trivial) knowledge from that show than any other.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 31, 2014 at 08:33

      Alton Brown is great. Don’t care much for cutthroat kitchen. Guy’s new supermarket shown is a better rendition of that idea.

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