Happy Anniversary, Have Some Beluga Lentils

I surely did not think I’d be discussing lentils at this juncture. But it’s official, this is the one-year anniversary of A Plum By Any Other Name … and I’m about to suggest to cook a seed. I had figured to usher in this event, I’d probably write about something truly impressive. A gorgeous three-tiered cake. Or an effortless plum crostata.

At the very least, I thought I’d have brioche for you, which I finally got up the nerve to make again after a disastrous first attempt that required transport through Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief. I’d like to say the results this time around were glorious, but—while the brioche wasn’t bad and was certainly edible—it wasn’t quite right. So it will likely get reincarnated as pain perdu, which is a step up from being whirled into gazpacho, the fate of attempt #1, but I digress.

The more important message here is that one thing I was certain I wanted for this blog was a list of go-to recipes. Recipes that would be like old friends. Recipes to keep in your back pocket, knowing even if you didn’t see them regularly, they’d be there if you needed them. So while I’ve failed at brioche (again) and have slacked in the celebratory dessert department, I’ve found a lot of great recipes that have enriched my life.

Enter: beurre maître d’hôtel and beluga lentils. Consider it a recipe for the Rolodex. It’s transformative and yet easy going enough for any occasion. It’s heavenly on fish, and carrots, and chicken, and pretty much anything that can take a little butter. Eating food graced with its presence is like getting to spend spring in Paris. In fact, it’s a celebratory dish in its own right, a feat that the French manage to pull off quite regularly.

The recipe itself is from Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking. It was originally published in 1960 with David, a British cookery writer who lived in France while studying history and literature, stressing the glory of simple French food. And so I can’t think of a better way to usher in year two than with her—who I hear was a bit of a wild woman—and a simple recipe that plays very well with others. Consider it a new old friend. (And a bit more reliable than brioche.) The brioche will come one day, I’m sure. But for today, lentils are where I am at.

And if there is one thing I’ve learned this past year, it’s that if you can take the heat, stay in the kitchen. You won’t always find the food that you've imagined, but if you keep at it what you'll find is well worth the wait. And so it’s been a wonderful first year, lentils and all. Thank you for coming along.

Beurre Maître D’Hôtel (parsley butter)
4 tbsp butter
1.5 tbsp chopped (very very finely) parsley
A few drops of lemon (the juice can also be used below)

Rinse a bowl out with hot water, add your butter and parsley (which David stresses should be very finely chopped) and work together with a fork, adding a few drops of lemon until well combined.

Lentilles Maître D’Hôtel (lentils with parsley butter)
Adapted from Elizabeth David

1.5-2 cups beluga lentils
Kosher salt
1/2 cup chicken stock (plus additional if cooking the lentils in stock instead of water*)
Juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp chopped parsley

For the lentils, spread them out on a plate or sheet pan and pick out any pebbles or grit you find. Soak the lentils in cold water for about an hour.

Drain them and put them in a pan with about 4-5 cups of water (or stock). Salt your liquid and bring the lentils to a boil and then simmer until the lentils are tender but not mushy, adding more liquid if needed. This took about 30 minutes for me, but it will depend on the freshness of your lentils. Once your lentils are cooked, drain any leftover liquid.

Return the lentils back to your pot, add 1/2 cup of stock and simmer the lentils again until the stock is absorbed. (If the lentils are in danger of getting mushy, just drain the excess liquid.) Put about 3/4 of your parsley butter (the remainder destined for something else wonderful) and lemon juice into the lentils and stir until it has just melted and forms a little sauce. Sprinkle with additional parsley. Taste the lentils and add additional salt and/or lemon, if necessary. "Serve at once in a hot dish," per David.

-While any lentils could be used here, ideally you'll want a lentil that retains its shape when cooking, like French Puy lentils. Though, if you can find beluga lentils they are stunning and hold up to their regal namesake.

-You could certainly cook the lentils in stock. *Honestly, I can't remember whether I used water or stock, though I have a sneaking suspicion I used a non-committal ratio of half water half stock.

-I admit I've previously sort of scuffed at sorting through lentils. This time, I figured I'd listen to David. And it made me wonder just how many pebbles I've swallowed in my past.

-I had to add a quote from David about the butter here. "We all know how to make parsley butter. But do we always do it really well or know its many uses?" Well, you don't say!


  1. Given the choice, I'd much rather curl up on the couch with a bowl of perfect lentils sauced in parsley butter than a dish of celebratory dessert. Thank you for a great recipe and a wonderful year of blogging. Looking forward to enjoying many more.

  2. Happy blogaversary! It has been wonderful following your blog. And you've given me some inspiration for the dried lentils in my pantry!

  3. Happy Anniversary to a fabulous blog! I have enjoyed reading your posts and look forward to many more to come

  4. Your posts always make me smile. Cheers to a great year of recipes and blog posts and to many more to come!

  5. I bought these lentils dried a while ago and haven't been sure what to do with them. thx for the recipe and congrats on the blogiversary!!

  6. I love lentils! I think they are so healthy too. Parsley butter sounds so good! Combining both those things sounds great!!

  7. Lentils with parsley butter? Ooh, I like this idea! Congratulations on the blogiversary!

    And if you ever want to talk brioche technique, drop me a line. :)

  8. Can you believe how fast this year has gone by?! Congratulations on a wonderful first year. I look forward to another wonderful year of your charming blog and wonderful recipes!

  9. 'if you can take the heat, stay in the kitchen...'
    brilliant. nicely done on your first year!

  10. Congratulations! A bowl of these, a piece of toast and a glass of wine. Civility itself. Love it- thank you for reminding me how good the simple things can be.