My husband and I first had this traditional French lentil salad in Le Puy, where most of France's lentil crop is grown. It uses the small, dark lentils you'll find in gourmet stores labeled "Lentilles du Puy." (My husband first thought the town was famous for its contact lenses, which are also called "lentilles" in French.) The restaurant in Le Puy where we first ate this salad is also the place where he asked me to marry him—thus the recipe's name. —ErikaKerekes
Test Kitchen Notes
ErikaKerekes's salad is simple and focused with a nice balance of flavors and textures. The zingy mustard and lemon and hints of garlic and bacon are well matched with the lentils. It makes great leftovers for lunch. —suchachef
6 to 8 as a first course
lentilles du Puy
lemons, juice and zest
cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
bacon, cooked and chopped
chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, chervil, chives, parsley, etc.)
Rinse the lentils in a strainer and pick out any rocks—yes, sometimes there are rocks, and your teeth will appreciate the two minutes it takes to look for them.
Put the lentils in a saucepan, cover with water by a few inches, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer the lentils about half an hour, or until al dente. You don't want them mushy, and the exact cooking time will depend on how long they've been sitting on the shelf in the store, so start checking them after about 20 minutes.
While the lentils are cooking, mix together the lemon juice and zest, garlic, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper in a big bowl.
Drain the lentils when they're ready and add them to the vinaigrette. You want to do this while the lentils are hot so they absorb the flavors of the dressing. Add the chopped bacon and toss everything together.
Wait 10 minutes, until the lentils have cooled slightly, and then add the fresh herbs. (They will wilt less, and lose less of their color, if you let the salad cool before adding them.)
Let the lentils stand at room temperature for an hour or two before serving.