Oh, those wonderful, nutty little French green lentils—they’re so good, we shouldn’t always relegate them humble soup or side-dish status. Here, they become downright elegant as they share the stage with fat, sweet shrimp (get the best you can find). In summer, I served this salad on a huge platter with roasted asparagus topped with thick shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I set the platter in the center of the table and let guests serve themselves—dining on the patio at its freshest and simplest best. I love a nice cold white Burgundy with this—a Meursault when I’m feeling splashy.
P.S.: Gourmet and health food stores are your best bet for finding French green lentils (sometimes labeled Lentilles Vertes du Puy).
Makes 4 servings
1 cup French green lentils (lentilles vertes du puy)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups water
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1 dash hot red pepper sauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salad and shrimp:
1 Belgian endive, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices (discard solid heart)
1 cup watercress, rinsed with tough stems removed
4 green onions, sliced into matchstick-size strips
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Butterhead Lettuce Leaves
1. Rinse, drain, and sort through lentils to discard any pebbles or non-lentil items. In a medium saucepan, sauté garlic hot oil until tender but not brown. Add lentils and slowly add water. Bring to boiling reduce heat and simmer, partially covered about 15 minutes or until tender but still firm. Drain and rinse lentils; cool to room temperature.
2. For dressing, in a small bowl combine vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard, and hot pepper sauce; whisk in olive oil until well blended.
3. In a large bowl, toss lentils, endive, watercress and matchstick-sliced green onions together until combined. Drizzle with dressing and toss again.
4. Place shrimp in an 8×8 baking dish; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with olive oil, garlic, fresh tarragon and thinly sliced green onion. Bake in a 400°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until shrimp are opaque throughout.
5. To serve, arrange butterhead lettuce leaves on a large platter. Add lentil salad and top with shrimp.