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.
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
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.