Lentils can be so dull. Trust the French to make them exciting!! Lentil Ragout is a classic French way of cooking lentils. Aromatics are sautéed before simmering Puy lentils in stock so they absorb the flavour. It’s an outstanding side dish (and we rarely say that about lentils!!), easy to make, and the perfect side for any protein.
Or just do as I do and eat a whole bowl of this for lunch!
I’m sharing this recipe today as a classic side dish for Duck Confit which I also published today as part of French Bistro Week! Together they form four recipes to put together your very own three-course French dinner party at home, with a Warm Goat’s Cheese Salad as the starter and Duck Confit as the main (so much easier than you think!). Dessert is coming on Friday!
Lentil Ragout, a great French side dish
This classic lentil recipe is an excellent all-round side dish that will go with just about anything. Yet it’s so flavourful by itself you can literally eat an entire bowl of it plain. The secret to making seriously delicious, restaurant-quality lentils? Start by sautéing aromatics, then cook the lentils in stock instead of water – preferably homemade Vegetable Stock. Stock is so simple to make and so much better than store bought!
Ingredients for Lentil Ragout
Here’s what you need to make this lentil side dish:
Puy lentils (French Lentils) – Known by several names including Puy Lentils, French Lentils, French Green Lentils or Black Lentils, these little mottled legumes are the traditional type of lentils used when making this classic dish. They differ from other lentils because they hold their shape better, have a deeper, nuttier flavour and lovely chew. See below for a close up photo.
Canned lentils won’t work for the recipe as written because the whole point here is that dried lentils are cooked in flavoured broth so they absorb the flavour. This is what makes the lentils so delicious!!
Carrot, onion and garlic – These aromatics that are sautéed to form the flavour base for the broth in which the lentils are cooked;
Parsley, bay leaf and thyme – The fresh herbs used to delicately flavour the dish;
Tomato paste – To thicken the sauce slightly, add a touch of tang and deepen the colour of the “sauce” moisterning the lentils; and
Vegetable stock – Preferably homemade (it’s so easy to make!), it really is that much better than store-bought. However, store-bought vegetable stock is not so bad these days! Use low-sodium, else the dish might end up too salty.
How to make Lentil Ragout
Just a few steps!
Sauté the onion, carrot and garlic on a medium heat until soft and sweet, around 5 minutes. Then add and cook off the tomato paste (to mellow the raw flavour) and stir in the herbs;
Add lentils and stock, bring to a simmer then lower heat so it’s simmering gently. Cook it with the lid off;
Skim off and discard any foam that gathers on the surface;
Simmer 15 minutes – The lentils are done when they are just-tender and when the liquid as mostly evaporated. There should still be enough to coat the lentils so they are not dry and stodgy. The lentils should be still be holding their form but be tender all the way through.
To finish, stir through parsley. It’s nice to add a touch of freshness both flavour-wise and visually.
What to serve with Lentil Ragout
As mentioned earlier, I’m sharing this Lentil recipe as a side dish for Duck Confit which I also published today. It’s a very classic side for Duck Confit at French bistros and brasseries. The earthy, savoury flavour and the texture of the soft lentils compliments the rich and luscious flavour of the duck beautifully.
The beauty of this lentil dish is that while it’s got enough flavour to carry itself – and I kid you not, I could (and will) eat a whole bowl plain – it’s neutral enough to pair with virtually anything. Try it with a protein (anything really … Roast Chicken, Pan Fried Fish, Prime Rib, steak, pork chops or just quick and crispy Garlic Chicken Thighs) or pile over roasted vegetables. Either way this lentil recipe will be an excellent addition to your recipe arsenal.
Give it go, you’re going to love it!! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Lentil Ragout – French Puy lentil side dish
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove , finely minced
- 1/2 onion , finely diced
- 1 carrot (large) , peeled and finely diced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf , preferably fresh otherwise dried
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 cup puy lentils (French lentils) (Note 1)
- 3 cups vegetable stock , preferably homemade else low sodium store bought (Note 2)
- 1/2 tsp salt (skip if using store bought)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp parsley , finely chopped
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Sauté garlic, carrot and onion until softened – around 5 minutes.
- Cook off tomato paste: Add tomato paste, bay leaf and thyme. Cook 2 minutes.
- Add lentils, simmer 15 minutes: Add lentils, stock, salt and pepper. Stir, bring to simmer, then lower heat and simmer without a lid for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft (don't let them overcook so they become mushy!).
- Season: Stir through parsley. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed. Serve!
Recipe originally published in May 2014. Long overdue for an update with sparkling new photos and a brand new recipe video!
Life of Dozer
I can tell you for sure, that is not lentils….