What could be better than a warm bowl of tangy, smoky lentils on a cold night? This recipe was inspired by an appetizer I tried a very long time ago at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville. It was simple, but really flavorful. It was also topped with a thin slice of foie gras, which I've left out of my recipe. Because the lentils are cooked a short time, they stay firm--a plus for eaters who are squimish about texture. I serve this as a side dish or a main course in place of pasta. It also travels well. —Lori Lyn Narlock
Combine the lentils, stock and thyme in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes until tender. Let sit uncovered.
Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring as needed, for 6 to 8 minutes until crispy. Transfer the bacon to paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and shallot to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes until tender.
Remove the thyme stems from the lentils. Stir the vegetable mixture in to the lentils.
Whisk together the vinegar and mustard in a small bowl. Pour into the skillet and cook over medium high heat for 1 minute. Pour over the lentils. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide the lentils into shallow bowls and top with the bacon. Serve warm.