Puy lentils are a tiny legume with a whole lot of history. In 1996, these little green lentils became the first vegetable to have the honor of an AOC designation in France, as their gastronomic qualities and unique flavor are said to come directly from the terroir in which they are grown. Their name comes from the town of Le Puy-en-Velay, the only place where lentils bearing the Puy name are legally allowed to be produced.
But their history isn't the only thing that makes them unique. The little slate-green lentils boast an earthy, slightly peppery flavor, and they also have excellent texture: when cooked properly, they are at once creamy and soft but hold their shape and texture.
While there are lots of ways to prepare these lentils -- a classic French recipe involves tossing hot lentils with vinaigrette and allowing them to absorb the sauce until cool -- this recipe highlights their spicy aromas by seasoning the lentils themselves with cumin, coriander, and garlic, and topping them with a cracked pepper yogurt sauce. The mint in the sauce adds freshness to the final dish and is the perfect foil for the earthiness of the plain lentils.
Puy Lentils with Minted Yogurt Recipe
2 1/2 cups organic Puy lentils
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup Greek yogurt
10 fresh mint leaves, chiffonnade
extra-virgin olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
fleur de sel
Combine the lentils, coriander, cumin, and garlic in a saucepan and cover with three times the volume of the lentils. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the lentils are cooked, remove the garlic clove and season the lentils with fleur de sel.
In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt, the mint, a very generous amount of black pepper, and some fleur de sel.
Serve the lentils warm or cold topped with a dollop of the minted yogurt. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with more mint.
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Images by Emily Monaco