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Warm French Lentil Salad with Smoked Sausage

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Serves 4 to 6

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 84

This classic bistro salad would make a fine first course, but it's also good at the center of a weeknight meal. The very small, dark greenish-brown du Puy lentils (also called French lentils) are firmer than brown lentils and hold their shape better during cooking. In France, the sausage would be saucisson à l'ail, a semi-cooked, smoked garlic sausage. Kielbasa makes a fine substitute.

  • 1-1/2 cups du Puy lentils (about 10 oz.)
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and split lengthwise
  • 8 oz. smoked sausage, such as kielbasa
  • 1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
  • 2-1/2 Tbs. red-wine vinegar; more as needed
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. walnut oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions (3 to 4 scallions)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Pick over and rinse the lentils, and put them in a 3- to 4-qt. saucepan. Pile the thyme, bay leaves, garlic, and peppercorns on a 5-inch square of double-layer cheesecloth. Gather up the edges and tie into a little pouch with kitchen twine. Add the pouch to the pan along with the onion and carrot. Fill the pan with cold water to cover the lentils by about 2 inches, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately lower to a gentle simmer—boiling can break the lentils—and simmer, uncovered, until just tender, 30 to 40 minutes. (If the water level drops below the surface of the lentils as they simmer, add a little more water.)

Meanwhile, put the sausage in a small saucepan or deep skillet. Add the wine and enough water to cover by about 1/2 inch. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat as needed to cook at a bare simmer (bubbles should only occasionally break the surface), uncovered, until a metal skewer inserted into the center comes out feeling hot to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes.

While the lentils and sausage cook, make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk 1-1/2 Tbs. of the vinegar with the mustard and a pinch of salt. In a steady stream, whisk in the olive and walnut oils. Season to taste with salt.

Tip:

Toss the lentils with a little salt and vinegar immediately after draining, and you'll see a big boost in the flavor of the salad. Like potatoes, lentils firm up as they cool, which slows their ability to absorb seasonings.

Drain the lentils, discarding the herb pouch, carrot, and onion. Transfer to a large bowl and add 1 tsp. salt and the remaining 1 Tbs. vinegar, tossing to coat.

Drain the sausage, and, if necessary, peel off the casing (bite into a piece first—many sausage casings are thin enough to leave on). Slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Add the sausage and vinaigrette to the lentils, tossing to coat. Stir in the parsley and scallions, and season with a generous amount of black pepper, plus more salt and vinegar to taste.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with crusty bread and a Frilly Lettuce Salad for an easy but satisfying supper.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on six servings; Calories (kcal): 390; Fat (g): fat g 21; Fat Calories (kcal): 180; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 3.5; Protein (g): protein g 17; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 30; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 610; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 25; Fiber (g): fiber g 7;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This "salad" is great! I've made this about three times now, it makes for a great pack-able and filling lunch, extremely healthy (there is very little meat per portion - I also use less kielbasa), and very convenient since there is no need to reheat. It also tastes better after a day or two in fridge when the flavors really meld together. My only tip on this otherwise awesome recipe is that the cup of wine isn't necessary, its lost on the sausage - drink that cup instead!

Great recipe as is or without the sausage and served as a side to grilled salmon. Definitely a fav recipe and a keeper.

I served this as a side dish for a french luncheon for a group of women. I served it with a side salad and some savory tarts. It was the star of the show. It went really well with a french rose' wine.

A nice, light dinner. I used regular green lentils instead of the Puy lentils (found that 20 mins was enough cooking time). I simmered the sausage in mostly water since I only had about 1/2 cup of white wine on hand, but don't think it really affected the overall flavour impact. Also, since I don't have any walnut oil in my pantry, used only olive oil.

I really liked this recipe. The warm lentils combined with mustard accented dressing were excellent combined with a good smoked sausage with crisp skin. The key for this one is excellent ingredients. Finally a chance to use that walnut oil I bought for something else.

Also good without the sausage for a vegetarian dish.

Delicious. It was even better as cold leftovers the next day.

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