Brown Butter Lentils with Roasted Carrots

Lentils carrots 2

I’ve been staring at my bar review books a lot these days. At three in the morning I push them aside. They sleep on the pillow next to mine. They’re always with me. They’re spectacularly bad in bed. Cold. Uncaring. Difficult to get acquainted with.

Studying alone is making me morose. My grandmother used to tell me of how sad she felt for the child I was because I’d cry for someone to play with. I would chase after the few children who visited when it was time for them to go home. There were no other children around, no one I could be friends with. I used to press my face against the big picture window and stare for what felt like ever. When the window frosted over, ghostly impressions of my nose and fingers showed up.

I feel like that shadow child again. Lonely, and not quite real because there isn’t anyone around I can talk to. My review course is online – it was the much cheaper option, and it allows me to stay up and study instead of waking up early to trek to class – but it also means that I don’t have regular contact with people.

Yet, as I’m writing this, I know. This is what was missing, this is the important thing. I’ll end up deleting most of these words. And then rewriting them. Later on, months from now, I’ll wonder how I could have written (and posted) so badly. These posts are streams of thought; there is very little structure, a bit of practice, and the beginning of something I want to pursue. What matters is that axe, and the frozen sea that has been breached.


plate close


shallots 3

I wanted to build a very simple, not-too-tart “vinaigrette”/dressing based on browned butter instead of olive oil. There’s a bit of tarragon and truffle salt too, which go very well with lentils and brown butter.
I’ve made this a few times, it’ll be in frequent rotation in my kitchen. The leftovers were great – but if you’re going to set some aside for later, don’t add all of the greens to the dish. This recipe also is fairly flexible. You can add a bit more browned butter, a bit more lemon – I don’t like tart so I kept it minimal, just enough to contrast with the richness of the butter and truffle salt – double up on the greens or replace the carrots with roasted tomatoes or squash…you get the picture.


Brown Butter Lentils with Roasted Carrots

1 cup lentils du puy (French green lentils)
3 cups of good-tasting broth
2 garlic cloves, halved
Truffle salt [the amount of salt you’ll need depends on the saltiness of your broth]

Brown Butter dressing
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 – 2 shallots, minced (you’ll want a scant 1/4 cup of minced shallots)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
Optional: 2 tablespoon dried currants
black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound carrots, well scrubbed
2 – 3 branches of thyme
1/2 tsp chunky/flaky sea salt

1 handful of microgreens or chopped arugula

For lentils + dressing:
Rinse the lentils thoroughly, picked out any tiny stones. Place in medium pot, add garlic cloves and broth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, turn down the temperature. Test at 25 minutes. You’ll want the lentils to tender (not hard), and you’ll want to have some of the cooking liquid leftover.
Discard all but one of the garlic clove halves; mash that half into your lentils. Taste, add truffle salt as needed. Cool for 10 minutes.

While the lentils cook, make the vinaigrette. In a small saucepan, cook the butter over medium low heat until it is golden brown and smells nutty. Pour the butter out into a bowl, leaving just enough to coat the pan. Add the minced shallots and cook over medium-low for 2 minutes. Add the shallots, lemon juice, tarragon, pepper, and if using, currant, to the bowl of browned butter.

Stir the vinaigrette and the handful of greens into the lentils.

For carrots: Preheat oven to 400 °F. Heat olive oil in oven-safe skillet over high heat, add carrots and sear for 2 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Top with thyme and sea salt, and put the skillet in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the carrots are browned and just tender through. If your carrots are thick, this will take over 15 minutes.


  1. lena,

    This is just such a wonderfully moving post, and a beautiful recipe.

    PS–If you ever feel like meeting new friends on a Friday night, shoot me a note. No pressure of course, but you’re welcome to join.

  2. Ashlae,

    I just think you’re so lovely. And I think we’d be dear friends in real life (social awkwardness, and all).

    Also, I love the idea of brown butter lentils but because of my janky innards and their inability to properly digest lactose, I will probably never be able to try them. What a pity.

  3. Lovely writing, as usual! I took the NY BARBRI online while I was in CA and it was an isolating, exhausting experience. Years later, I chatted with folks who did the CA option in class, surrounded by others who were in the same terrible boat, and they said that option was horrible too so I guess there’s just no winning with the Bar courses. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you, and sending you good thoughts! (in hopes you’ll send my starving, “babies are driving me nuts” self some roasted carrots) :) #solidarity ;)

  4. Emma,

    You seem to have so much insight and self-awareness, something a lot of people don’t have. After you pass your exam (I did part of my post grad degree off campus so I sort of know how that feels, I used to chat on messenger a lot back then just to feel like somebody else was out there!), things will start happening I’m sure.

    I also think we’d be friends if we met, you seem like somebody I’d love to know with these beautifully written snippets of your life you write for us.

    Oh and your recipe sounds simple yet delicious and so full of flavour! I really like those little French lentils, they hold up so well. And roast carrots aren’t used nearly enough.

    Take care of you ♥

  5. Your writing is delightful read, and I concur on that child who never wants others to leave- that was me! Keep writing, and keep inspiring. You found a new fan now ( me ).

  6. Very thoughtful and beautifully written post. I wish you wrote more – I crave your writing sometimes :)
    I just know that whenever I will visit bay area, I will make a point to meet you (of course if you wish:)),at many places in your post you echo what I feel so much especially after coming to United States. Sometimes, I wonder is it too much that I am thinking or wonder if its just the social structure here.

    I wish you all the very best for the online course J, for me more than the unsocial part, its the discipline which will scares me in distant learning.

    Those carrots and lentils would make such a lovely summer lunch, I wanna rush to Whole foods right now and get some Fresh lentils or may be use my black masoor

  7. The brown butter in the dressing is genius! This whole dish is so skilfully put together it looks so tasty. I loved your reflections, they were so honest and relatable. Good luck with your course!

  8. Monet,

    Your blog is beautiful. Your words are full of both loneliness and life…what I always look for in a writer. And then, of course, this recipe…gorgeous. What a beautiful salad that is both rich and light at the same time.

  9. Lovely dish, beautiful and simple!

    ela h.

  10. Gintare,

    Whenever I visit, I yearn to cuddle up with a cup of tea while reading your beautiful prose. Don’t ever stop writing, you have more kindread souls out there than you imagine ;)

  11. Pang,

    This is such a flexible & healthy recipe, Joyti. I really like your photographs. Your blog is beautiful. I am hooked :)

    Sending you good luck for the exams. :)

  12. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it now, and I’m probably going to say it again: your writing is so honest, pure, and beautiful. I truly believe that one’s writing is like a reflection of one’s soul. Thank you for sharing this piece of writing this reflection of your soul, this caption of moments. xoxo

    [and the recipe sounds absolutely lovely!]

  13. Sissi,

    It’s better to be alone than in bad/boring company… There are so many books to be read, so many dishes to discover…
    I often prepare lentils with vinaigrette (or rather moutardette ;-) ) sauce, but I would never even think of adding brown butter instead of olive oil. It’s an extraordinary idea I must test! Thank you.

  14. Daniela,

    Love to read your posts , Joyte, lovely writing.
    And the brown butter lentils seems a wonderful idea to me.

  15. Beth,

    Gorgeous recipe – and what a great quote by Kafka. I’ll have to remember that one.

  16. Dear Joyti,
    Thank you so much for your visit to The Tearoom today! I am enjoying my summer, but will enjoy it more when the temperatures here start to reach what one expects them to be in the summertime! Luckily, that is supposed to happen by the weekend.

    I was especially touched by your post today. I was an only child who didn’t have many friends or children my age in my neighborhood, so I was very attached to some of my cousins who were close to my age. They have all out-grown me now, but it always broke my heart to see them go home after they had been at my house to play for a few hours. I have found (and hope you will find the same true for you) that I think of myself as lucky. Being alone so much has equiped me to function very well on my own and luckily, I married someone so similar to myself that we know when we each require some time to ourselves without having to communicate it. It takes a while to become comfortable with being the grownup You, but I think you will do just fine!

    Wishing you a happy and successful summer!!


  17. Joyti, So great that you’ve created this space for your artistic, social self. Especially right now…what a perfect balance to the solitary work of studying for the bar all by yourself!
    Your salad looks dreamy. I love lentils and tarragon. Yum!
    Wishing you the best of luck,

  18. I love lentils, especially in soups so I’m really looking forward to try this dish:) Btw: I find social awkwardness lovely:) xoxo

  19. This line: “Lonely, and not quite real because there isn’t anyone around I can talk to” — It sums up a feeling I could never articulate that well. My freshman year of college, I moved to Florida, to a school where I literally did not know a single person and not a single person knew me. I remember feeling like the life I had lived up to that point hadn’t happened because no one around me had known it. Then, when I went home for Christmas, I felt like the college life was imaginary, because I was living amongst people who’d never known that life instead.

    C.S. Lewis has this quote I think about a lot in this age of constant sharing and yet hunger for sharing: “We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes [!!!] the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”

    It’s crazy and yet real that sharing something with another soul can complete that something in a way that not sharing it can’t.

  20. Jen,

    Oh my, what a beautiful post. Your words, your pictures, your recipe–so thoughtful and interesting.

    I studied for the bar at home, but that was in the days when it came on cassette tapes and there wasn’t the internet to distract me. Good luck–I know how hard it is, and how hard you’ve worked!

  21. Sorry you feel alone :( but I’m glad you are finding what you love! This recipe looks amazing! YUM! As usual your photography is so beautiful!!

  22. The brown butter dressing and truffle salted lentils is an inspired combination. Your recipes are always as lovely as the words that accompany them.

  23. Shu,

    The recipe sounds delicious, and that styling..absolutely beautiful. So light and thoughtful. Great work x

  24. Mallika,

    You bet, you spoke my mind out when I read those words in the first para. I assume we all go through these phases of loneliness and boredom with life. Keep up your love for writing Joyti. It’s beautiful and evocative. The brown butter lentils with roasted carrots look delicious.

  25. Nandita,

    This write up is so great joyti!! And the recipe is so simple yet so delectable!! I can’t wait to try this out :)

  26. Suzanne,

    I think a lot of us
    “old souls” tread a
    lonely path at some
    point, but I can absolutely
    promise you that you
    will begin to build your
    own friendship garden
    of like-minded spirits
    as you grow into your
    journey. I’m surprised
    you haven’t acquired a few
    from your time at the
    Farmer’s Market, elbow to
    elbow with others who see
    the possibilities in all
    of that loveliness (both
    the produce and you, as a
    potential friend). It’s so
    easy in this era to hunker
    down and not go out into the
    world, but don’t limit yourself
    to your own hearth, sweet J.
    Don’t mean to preach, but I
    say the same thing to my 19-
    year old: shine your light.

    xo Suzanne

  27. natasha,

    Joyti, I am so glad you commented on my blog as it led me to yours. Your open, honest writing, the streaming thoughts – they are just beautiful – as are the photographs! I’m glad that through this you have found that thing, that missing piece and I really hope you continue to love and nurture it. I can’t wait for future posts and to get to know you better! x

  28. Hi Joyti,
    There’s nothing like being in a tightly focused study mode–so solitary in itself—to churn up all those images and feelings of isolation, separateness. Poignant writing. You must know that you’ve connected with all of us here—with your words and your mindful recipes. We’re with you, wishing you the best as you get through this intense study phase.

    PS Brown butter with lentils=genius.


  29. Juliana,

    Nice post Joyti…lovely!
    I love the idea of brown butter in this lentil dish…sounds delicious. Thanks for the inspiration dear.
    Have a wonderful week :D

  30. such a honest post..although my RD exam wasnt as bad as I thought it was going to be, at that time, I felt lonely and frustrated too. Brew yourself a pot of coffee and take frequent breaks in between – get some air. Lovely photo and I bet the recipe is delicious, esp with that brown butter.

  31. Victoria,

    I absolutely love lentils! What a great meatless dish :)

  32. cynthia,

    Oh, Joyti! My heart went out to you when I read this. Bar studying was one of the most isolating experiences I’ve ever had, and, just like you said, it really made life seem surreal at times. I’m so glad you have this outlet, not only because I know it must be therapeutic, but because it means we get such gorgeous recipes and photos. This is just beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing, and so much good luck (but you don’t need it, because you will pass! :) )

    P.S. If you ever feel like venting about the bar, feel free to drop me a line (or three, or twenty)!

    • Joyti,

      Awww, thanks! I might have to take up on the venting offer :P

  33. I’m so digging the whole foods trend these days, they yield the most vibrant and beautiful foods, just like yours! The flavours sound incredible, will try this out soon!

  34. Stephanie,

    Sounds really goodd the recipe…I am an only child so I ca relate to your childhood loneliness…and even your loneliness with the textbook and online classes…it is a painfully empty feeling…After hours of trying to study in my claustrophobic small studio apartment I would run outsife and to the Walgreen near my house just to see and hear other people…I often would try to strike up a conversation with the CSR as they were a captive audience…then I would begin to think to myself and want to leave but sometimes I would make a connection and stay until I got tired amd return to my studio feeling content and settle in for the night

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