I always have lentils on hand in my pantry. I use them in soups, rice dishes, and pastas, but I really appreciate them when they're delicately cooked and served as a salad. I think smoked bacon is really essential to booting their flavor. This dish had nice acidity and richness. The peppery arugula goes so well with these flavors. It's one of my favorite salads. I place my egg into a ramekin lined with plastic wrap, then I poach it gently for 4-5 minutes. I chose to separate the white from the yolk for appearance. —James Durazzo
Lentils (rinsed under cold water)
Unsalted chicken/vegetable stock or water
Smoked pancetta or regular pancetta (cut into cubes)
Cut the pancetta into lardons or cubes, then place in a cold pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Let the pancetta render out some of the fat and become golden but not too brown. Drain from the fat, and set aside. Reserve a 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat for the dressing
In a sauce pan, add 1 tbsp on Extra virgin olive oil, and begin to sweat the carrots, celery, shallots, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper. After you sweat these, add in the lentils which have been rinsed under cold tap water. Add in 1 bay leaf.
Add enough stock or water to cover generously. Bring to a rapid boil, and immediately turn down to the lowest simmer on your burner. You want these to cook very gently so that they do not burst. Cook for 20-25 minutes covered. Taste them to make sure they are tender. Drain them from their cooking liquid, and remove the carrots, celery, and bay leave. I like to leave some of the shallots in the dish. Remove the smashed garlic and reserve for the dressing.
For the dressing, combine 1 tablespoon each Extra Virgin olive oil, rendered pancetta fat along with 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Add the smashed garlic cloves, and whisk together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the dressing onto the lentils. Ideally, as this sits, it becomes better as the flavors marry, but it can be served as is.
To serve, lay your poached egg gently on top of a bed of the lentils, sprinkle the reserved pancetta that was set aside. Serve with Arugula/rocket tossed in some Extra Virgin olive oil and lemon.