Serious Eats: Recipes

French in a Flash: Dijon Lentil Salad with Lemon Roasted Shrimp

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

The inspiration for this dish came from a very unusual place: the menu on the wall in Meryl Streep's café in It's Complicated. I always find myself salivating and longing for long picnics on the Pont des Arts whenever I see a Nancy Meyers movie, and this one full of cloudy chocolate croissant reveries was no exception. So when I saw "lentil and shrimp salad" scrawled out across the screen, I thought, "That would make a good column!"

I don't know how Meryl Streep makes her lentil and shrimp salad, but I make mine with Puy lentils, Dijon vinaigrette, and jumbo shrimp roasted with lemon zest and olive oil in a Riviera-hot oven, ticker-taped with bits of sweet grape tomato peeking. I love the French use of lentils—filling as mashed potatoes but far more virtuous, and while I did recently hear my favorite celebrity chef insist that you could substitute any lentil for the dainty, green du Puy, I will have to ask you not to. Brown lentils that turn to mush were created for soup, and green lentils that stay pert after a hard boil were made for salads. Puy lentils are more and more readily available, but truly any gourmet or health food store should carry them, and like the road less traveled, they make all the difference.

I love this salad for being simultaneously extravagant and rustic, dietetic and hearty, earthy and light. The age-old pairing of lentils with seafood gets a happy update, and the perk is the salad can be served hot, warm, cold, or indifferent. A salad for all seasons!

About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the The Secret Ingredient series for Serious Eats.

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