This is the kind of food that makes me what to shout, "Look, Ma, I'm eating healthily!"
I've been traveling a lot lately, which I love, and it's great, but it's also inevitably gluttonous. My days in Paris are not usually filled with thoughts of vitamins and minerals. Maybe that's why French food has such a reputation for being fattening—even though French women don't get fat. It's because when we Americans get there, we can't keep our hands off the croissants and macarons and gratins! Not that I think we should. Far from it.
But French food's unhealthy reputation stateside is a huge misunderstanding. The French people I know are some of the healthiest eaters. They respect portion control and listen to their hunger. They eat balanced meals. And they eat seasonably, with a ton of fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains. Lentils, the French legume, makes a frequent appearance.
This week, I wanted to show that being back from France didn't mean I had to miss out on eating French food or on recalibrating to a healthy equilibrium. This salad is made from French Puy lentils and barley, dressed with fresh thyme, lemon, and tapenade, and tossed with parsley and scallions. It can be served warm or at room temperature. And it goes perfectly with roast salmon, my virtuous food. I try to always keep in mind, and in mouth, that virtuous can also be delicious.
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 French in a Flash series for Serious Eats.
- 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed and dry
- 1 cup du Puy lentils, rinsed
- 4 cups vegetable broth, divided
- 2 cups water
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 bay leaf, in half
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon tapenade
- Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
Put the barley in a medium saucepot over medium-high heat, and toast, stirring often, until the barley smells toasty and little golden spots appear on the grains. Add 2 cups vegetable broth, and 2 cups water, 1 garlic clove, half the bay leaf, and salt. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Then, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, until the barley is tender, about 40 minutes. Drain excess liquid, and discard bay leaf and garlic.
Put the lentils in a separate saucepot with a lid, and cover with 2 cups vegetable broth, 1 garlic clove, half the bay leaf, and salt. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Then, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender, but have not lost their shape, about 30 minutes. Drain excess liquid, and discard bay leaf and garlic.
While the barley and lentils are cooking, whisk together the tapenade, lemon juice, half the lemon zest, olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper, to form a vinaigrette.
Toss the barley and lentils gently with a silicone spatula in a large bowl with the vinaigrette, parsley, scallions, and remaining lemon zest. Serve warm, or at room temperature (it's best a room temperature), especially next to a big piece of roasted salmon.