french lentils

February 21, 2011, Michaela Evanow, 0 Comments

I have this delightful bay leaf tree in the garden, which offers up glossy, bay leaves all year round (in the West Coast, at least). Fresh bay leaves smell wonderful, like a subtle combination of basil and cloves. Dried bay leaves often smell musty, like the back of a granny’s pantry. My kitchen is steaming away, and all I can smell is bay leaf, which in turn smells like summer and autumn all blended together. Tonight the evening glow came through the gray clouds, offering glimpses of golden sunshine and grapefruit pink hues that washed away the dowdy winter smudges. I was standing on the patio, enjoying the view, when the big bay leaf tree caught my eye. I have been waiting to gleam it’s fruit since moving in, but haven’t been able to think of a recipe that uses bay leaf to it’s full potential. Then I remembered one of my favourite recipes from “Eat, Drink and Be Vegan” by Dreena Burton. It is so simple, anyone can make it!

Cooked lentils have roughly 18 grams of protein per cup, (average female-not pregnant-needs 34-40 grams of protein a day) and are a wonderful source of folate, iron, magnesium, and fiber. In addition, being a plant food, lentils do not contain cholesterol; and the protein derived from them is much easier to digest than the animal equivalent, or even soybeans.

Bay leaves are a wonderful addition to this dish, and many others, because once cooked, they release Vitamin A & C, manganese, iron, calcium, and magnesium. You can try drinking bay leaf tea, if you have a cold. Simply boil the bay leaves in some water for at least 10 minutes. Bay leaf tea can help ease congestion and cough. You can also add this concoction to your bath water (simply boil more water and add 4-5 bay leaves) to help ease aches and pains. The essential oil of bay leaves also has anti fungal properties, and can be used topically to ease skin infections, cuts, bruises and insect bites.

This is my adapted version from Dreena Burton’s fantastic cookbook.

Savoury French (Puy) Lentils


  • 3/4 cup dried green lentils
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 gloves garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • 1/2 tsp black strap molasses
  • lemon wedges


Add all ingredients, except lemon wedges, into a pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, cover with lid, and let cook until the lentils absorb the liquids, about 35-40 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges and lot of freshly cracked black pepper.

Alongside the lentils, I served Balsamic Glazed Onions and Asparagus, with Maple Butter Crumbled Tofu. The Puy Lentils are a great side dish for a winter evening: warm, satisfying, hearty and rich.

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