I like the idea of lentils—they’re packed with fiber and protein and are incredibly inexpensive, but in practice I often find them to be a little bland, no matter how I cook them. That is until Carla introduced me to cookbooks by Deborah Madison (aka “the Julia Child of vegetarian cooking”). I love the whimsical style of her writing, and the easy, creative recipes in her book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone turn out so well, but I still couldn't bring myself to try out dishes from the lentil chapter. When I snatched up a copy of her cookbook The Savory Way at a used bookstore, I finally went looking for a little lentil redemption…
Eureka! This recipe for lentils cooked in red wine transformed my bag of brown, dried Goya lentils into something bright, tangy, and full of deep flavor. I made a big batch and ate some on toast, some topped with scallions and a fried egg (shown above), and some I even froze some for a week and reheated later to serve alongside our muffin-pan potato gratins.
I made a few tweaks from the recipe to account for what I had around (and to reduce a bit of the butter), so here’s a copy of what I cooked up. My girl Deborah suggests serving it with fresh chopped parsley on top which would be great!
Red Wine Lentils
- 1 cup lentils
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- A few pinches of dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 2 cups red wine (I had just 1.5 cups, so I diluted it with vegetable broth)
- 1 ½ cups water
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar would work, too)
Rinse the lentils well, cover them with hot water, then set them aside while you chop and prep. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil in a large pot or straight-sided skillet over medium, add shallots, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots turn golden brown. Stir in tomato paste, then add wine. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Drain the lentils and add them to the skillet along with the water and a few dashes of salt. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter and vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.