Sausages and Lentils
One of the most memorable meals I had while traveling in southern France wasn't complex and expensive, but rather a simple plebeian meal that I often recreate at home - sausages and lentils.
There is such a wide variety of sausages available - It's easy to find your favorite or enjoy experimenting with a wide variety - from mild to spicy, made with beef, pork, chicken, turkey or even veggies. Pair them with some lentils tossed with a mustard vinaigrette and you have got a delicious meal!
The meal I enjoyed so much in France was made with Merguez - a spicy lamb sausage, and was served on a bed of green lentils. One market in the Berkshires that often supplies Merguez is a little café and French market, Bizalion, in Great Barrington. You can grill the sausages or pan-fry them.
Although you can make the dish with the more pricey Lentilles de Puy, I find that inexpensive green lentils keep their shape better and absorb more of the Dijon vinaigrette.
Green Lentils with Dijon Vinaigrette
Into a saucepan, put:
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 crushed garlic clove
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
Add 1 1/2 cups green lentils, rinsed and carefully picked over to remove any stones.
Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
Drain the lentils and put them into a bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Toss the lentils with the vinaigrette, stirring again just before serving.
To serve, top with chopped scallions .You could also sprinkle on some crumbled feta or goat cheese. For a fancier presentation, top with some large salmon roe. The saltiness of the roe is a perfect counterpoint to the earthy lentils.