Like most who inhabit this food-centric segment of the global web, Gourmandistan is not going to question the legendary Jacques Pépin. But we will cheekily update his recipe to add a bit more crunch. Michelle found this 1991 recipe (and its accompanying article declaring “la salade has arrived”) in the New York Times archives when looking for something to do with a Savoy cabbage. We thought the ingredient list had promise, but the cooking methods and the delicate Savoy made the end result a bit mushy and mild. The next time, Michelle broke the original recipe down to its components, determining that preparing each part separately would keep things crisper. She replaced onions with lots of shallot, added some celery and carrot for more flavor and brightness, and used a regular cabbage instead of Savoy to maintain more crunch even when warmed with some just-cooked lentils. Steve doctored up the simple dressing with a bit more mustard and vinegar, and we had another go at Pépin’s “composed salad.” The result was a much tastier, less mushy mélange of lentils, bacon and cabbage—a quite good salad that makes a lovely lunch or dinner.
(adapted from Jacques Pépin in The New York Times) Rinse the lentils in a colander, removing and discarding any bad ones. Place the lentils in a small pot along with bay leaf and thyme and cover with stock or water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 30 or 40 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet, then remove to a plate covered with a paper towel. Crumble into small pieces. Add the shallots to the bacon fat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add carrots and celery and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until shallots are beginning to caramelize and other vegetables are just cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Place mustards, vinegar, olive oil and some salt and pepper in a salad bowl and whisk until combined. Add cabbage, along with the shallots and other cooked vegetables, and toss to mix. Remove the herbs, drain any remaining cooking liquid from the lentils and add them, while still warm, to the salad bowl. Add parsley and mix well. Add some good salt, if needed. When ready to serve, add the croutons and bacon and toss.
LENTIL, CABBAGE AND BACON SALAD
(adapted from Jacques Pépin in The New York Times)
When ready to serve, add the croutons and bacon and toss.