Lentils are tasty and high in protein. They form an important part of a vegetarian diet, and indeed the largely vegetarian Indian diet has resulted in many delicious recipes, such as tarka dal, for all sorts of lentils. In France the bluey-greeny Puy Lentils are a common accompaniment to lamb and other dishes. Puy lentils cook quite quickly without the need for presoaking. This is a considerable advantage. A very simple dish is to chop a shallot very finely and fry gently in butter or oil for a few minutes in a saucepan until soft. Then add 1 cup of puy lentils, which you have picked over to catch any pebbles etc. Stir the lentils carefully to coat with the oil. Then add 3 cups of water. Don’t add any salt at this stage as it can make the skins tough. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, partially covered, until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid. Add a dressing of 1 tablespoon red wine or sherry vinegar to 3 tablespoons of good olive oil. Do this while the lentils are still warm. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cool to room temperature. There is easily enough for six side portions. Any leftovers can be kept for several days in the fridge.
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