My January column for French Property News: Puy Lentils

Puy Lentils: The Poor Man’s Caviar
Though many of us start the new year with the determination to make up for the excesses of the festive season, it isn’t surprising that halfway through the month of January, the need for comfort food often overrides the best of intentions. I am certainly no exception. After a few gruelling weeks of soups and skimpy salads, the day will inevitably arrive when my short-lived health stint comes to a delicious end with a
petit salé and a fleshy, well-structured Brouilly. A winter classic in Auvergne and a fine example of cuisine du terroir, this hearty peasant dish consists of rustic hunks of salted pork, sausages, bacon and green lentils. Not just any green lentils though, but lentilles vertes du Puy.
Puy lentils are cultivated in 87 communes in the heart of the Haute-Loire department and have been a part of the regional diet since Roman times. Though tiny in size (they’re only about one-third as big as regular lentils), lentilles du Puy are far superior in taste and texture. The area’s mineral-rich, volcanic soils not only impart a slightly peppery, earthy flavour to the lentils, but the arid climate with long, hot summers means that they dry naturally and are harvested before reaching full maturity. This results in lentils that are less starchy, cook faster, retain their shape and don’t become mushy, making them ideal for warming casseroles as well as more refined cuisine. In regional restaurants you’ll often find them in dainty verrines crowned with smoked fish, cooked into delicate veloutés or served as an elegant side dish to rabbit or duck confit. 

Read full column, published in the January 2021 issue of French Property News here:


Image: © Beegoo, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Tourisme