Ready to try some fabulously tasty French green lentils? The tiny lentille du Puy is both a humble peasant food and an exalted ingredient in refined French cooking. Known in France as poor man's caviar, you will be wowed by its
complex, mineral rich taste that can be used in a vast number of dishes.
Where Do They Come From?
The particularity of these lentils is that they are all grown in Auvergne, a rugged mountainous region in the south of France. Because they are designated by an AOC (appellation d'origine controlée), only lentils grown near
Puy-en-Velay and adhering to the rules of the appellation can be labeled as Puy lentils. These lentils are grown without watering or fertilizing, and it is the rich volcanic soil and difficult growing conditions that give them so much
flavor and nutritional value
It is interesting to note that the word puy, which you will find included in many different French names for places, refers to an isolated volcanic hill. When gazing upon the Auvergne landscape, you will will notice quite a few of
If you look at Puy lentils closely, you will see that they are beautifully mottled with green and blue areas. While smaller then most other varieties of lentils, they are packed with flavor. And while their skins are thin and
tender, they hold up very well and retain their shape even when they are fully cooked.
Lentils are something that transports pretty easily, so you should be able to find these tasty fellows in many places in the world. You can easily order Puy Lentils and have them shipped right to your doorstep - the exact same ones I buy in the grocery store here in France.
Cooking French Green Lentils
There is no special technique to cooking les lentilles du Puy. They cook in the same fashion as other lentils and can substitute for these in your favorite recipes. The basic cooking technique is:
Rinse the lentils with cold water and remove any gravel that may have sneaked its way in.
Place them in a sturdy pot and cover with 6 times as much water.
Bring the pot to a boil and then simmer until done, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Trying French Green Lentils in Recipes
Now that you a know a bit about them, maybe you'd like to try these lentils in a recipe. Here are a few ideas:
Lentil Soup Recipe - Here the lentils are paired with ham hocks and sausages for a hearty French meal.
Lentil Salad Recipe - One of my favorites, warm lentils are dressed in a vinaigrette and topped with fresh goat cheese. Fabulous taste combination.
Pairing Suggestions - Popular combinations in France are serving lentils with foie gras, lamb, salmon, or another fish.
Terrine - Lentils are first cooked with some vegetables (carrots and shallots perhaps), seasoned (mustard and parsley are popular) then fitted to a
terrine mold and chilled before serving.
Creamed - To make a puree of Puy lentils you will need to cook them longer then usual, perhaps an hour. Use a food processor or stainless steel food mill to mash them and serve as an accompaniment to fish or lamb.