Category: France

Slice of My Life – A Month in France

July 17, 2012

Hello Friends.  I have missed writing my slice of life posts.  I have missed sharing the silly little photos (and some not so silly) that represent my week.  I thought about just picking up where I left off, ignoring, for the moment, that I just spent a month in France.  But last week consisted of a 10½ hour flight back from Paris, jet lag, coming back to a house that I dearly love and that now seems palatial, and going through this house, room by room, purging us of excess stuff that we have accumulated in 5½ years.  And then an impromptu trip to Lopez Island.  It has already been a week of relief (so nice to be home), sadness (how can we leave this city and that island?), and being overwhelmed (will we find a house in Oakland? are we doing the right thing? will the moving part of the move ever be over?).  In other words, not a week to share in photos.

So, I’ll share my month is France instead.  To make it a little simpler for myself, these are all photos I took with my phone.  If you follow me on Instagram (I’m @danatreat), you might have already seen some of these.

In case you didn’t read this post, we stayed three weeks in a lovely town called Cagnes-sur-Mer.  We found our place using VRBO.  It’s the one with the red flowers.

This was the view from the tiny deck off the third floor.  (Yes, three floors, but each one had two small rooms.)

Cagnes-sur-Mer really consists of three parts and we lived in Haut de Cagnes, or high up on the hill.  There were four or five restaurants up there with a beautiful courtyard and a boule court over to one side.  The view was spectacular.  We tried a Vietnamese place (fair) and ate several times at a pizza place (good).  The boys could come sit for a few bites and then run around.  It was ideal.

Our days on the Côte d’Azur went one of two ways.  We either did a beach day in our town or we piled into the car for an adventure.  Either way, each morning the boys and I would walk down our steep hill to one of the two bakeries we liked best.  (There were at least five others in our little town.)  I would buy the days’ first baguette and they would get a treat.  Sometimes we would walk back up the hill and sometimes we would wait for the little bus to take us back up.

(This photo is actually taken at the little stop across the street from our place.)

Beach days included slathering on lots of sunscreen and then loading up our bag for the half hour walk to the beach.  It was HOT, especially the second two of the three weeks we were there.  But the breeze at the beach was lovely and the temperature of the water was perfect.  The boys would spend hours looking for sea glass, playing games with rocks and sticks, and playing in the waves.

The snack shack at my childhood neighborhood pool had things like Fudgesicles and bad frozen pizza.  This guy had crèpes, delicious paninis, freshly made salads, and amazing granitas.  When they were going to get their “drink” became a point of obsession on beach days.

Orange was their favorite.

If it was an adventure day, we walked down to the town parking lot and loaded up in our rental Peugot.  We always brought Veronique – the France friendly GPS sister to our American Veronica in our car at home.  Veronique made driving and finding our way around about as un-stressful as driving around an unfamiliar, and very crowded, region can be.  We would pick a place we wanted to visit and let her guide us there.  Mountain towns, beach towns, large cities, small villages – we saw a lot.

Vence was one of the first places we visited and it remains one of our favorite towns.  This was the only cloudy day in three weeks.

I mentioned this in my last post but this is the Matisse chapel.  No photos were allowed inside.  It is magical there.

Windy back roads and the view of Nice from on high.  Our poor boys walked with us all the way up on a very hot day but we rewarded them with this.

I had never seen a carousel as pretty as this one.

We spent a day gaping at the beauty and wealth in Monaco.  They have a terrific aquarium there but honestly, I don’t feel a need to go back.

Probably my favorite thing we did was drive to St. Raphaël and then catch a ferry to St. Tropez.  St. Tropez is on a peninsula so it is difficult to access by car.  We knew it would be ritzy and it was but it was also small and charming and very beautiful.  It was over 100ºF that day but ducking in and out of gorgeous (and blissfully air conditioned) shops made it bearable.  As did ice cream.

The ferry back.

We went to so many sweet towns.  This one was on our way to Cap Ferrat – Villefranche sur Mer.  We ate over-priced pizza and just stared at the view.

We saw a lot of art on our trip.  Matisse is prevalent throughout small towns along the Côte d’Azur and there is a particularly lovely museum in Nice.  There was a Renoir museum in our town and we loved the Chagall mueseum, also in Nice.  I had a poster of this painting on my wall throughout college, so seeing it in person was a real treat.

The boys were relatively patient on our adventures.  Not that there wasn’t complaining.  We had to keep reminding ourselves that they are 7 and 5 years old and wandering through mountain towns in search of table linens is not really what they wanted to be doing.  So in addition to the beach days, we did two days at water parks – Aqualand and Aquasplash.  If you ask the boys, this was their favorite thing we did in France.

I just have to include this photo of Spencer.  This was our view of him for much of this vacation.  Long board shorts and just a peek of butt crack.  No matter how many times we pulled up his bathing suit, this was how it looked.

On many days, the walk back up the hill, or the ride up in a hot and crowded bus, was just too much to face.  So we would pause in the town square and enjoy a  beer (or an apple juice).

After three weeks, our time in southern France came to an end.  We celebrated our last night by getting dressed up and eating dinner at our favorite place on the top of the hill.

And then we went to Paris.

Where we rode the ferris wheel in the Tuileries.

Which is right next to the Louvre.

We went to Euro Disney – the boys’ first trip to a Disneyland park.

We went to the Musée d’Orsay where the boys lasted a full two hours before staging a full-on protest.

We ate felafel.  For an hour after lunch, Graham kept exclaiming, “That was SO GOOD!”  I was a proud mama.  Even Spencer said, “I tried that brown thing and it tasted good.”

This was our view from the living room window.

And this was the last picture I took before we slept our last night in France.

From France, With Love

June 22, 2012

On Monday, June 11th, our little family woke up at the usual time. We ate breakfast and finished putting toothbrushes, stuffed animals, medications, snacks, and all manner of necessary things in our suitcases and backpacks. A lovely friend who is staying in our house while we are gone, came to get keys, information about garbage and mail, and where to get coffee and all manner of Tangletown things (that is the name of our neighborhood). And then, before we could really wrap our brains around it, we were off the airport for the long day and night of travel to France.

I realize that loving food and loving France is kind of cliche. There are a lot of Francophiles in the world. But France has been an important part of my life for much of my life, so I’d like to talk about France and what it has meant to me in my almost 42 years. I went for the first time when I was just under a year old. My parents tell the story of packing a full suitcase full of Pampers, because they were unavailable in Europe in 1971, and also of me making lots of noise in museums and eating tons of French fries. They went on to take me to numerous other countries over the course of a 3 week trip when you really could do Europe on $10/day, and I remember none of it.

The next time I went, I was 16 years old, on a bike with a group from my high school, three months riding along country roads, sleeping in tents, eating more bread and chocolate than I ever thought possible, and really truly, learning the language and also learning to love the French. We rode through the castles in the Loire Valley; the apple orchards of Normandy; startled goats off treacherous roads in Corsica (and had two solid weeks of sunshine); had snow-capped mountains as our constant companions through the Alps,; and tried to remember why it was that we chose the region of Auvergne, in the Massif Central mountains, until we came upon the Gorge du Tarn – a place so wild and beautiful that we frequently had to get off our bikes to just stare.

My next visit was when I was a junior in college and spent a semester in Paris. I decided that, in order to make the most of my 5 months and to learn the most Franch possible, I should live with a French person. My college teamed me up with a woman doctor who, for reasons unknown to me, was so depressed that she never left the apartment, had a dog named Ginger who would shit in the hallways, and who would give one sole dinner party the whole time I was there, telling me I had to stay in my room while the guests were there, and then would leave every single dish and platter in the kitchen for weeks so that, when I came in from class, I would have to cover my face with my shirt so the stench of rotting food wouldn’t make me sick. It is a true testament to the wonders of Paris, its beauty and the amazing food, that I left after that semester vowing to someday return.

Somehow, it took another 12 years for the next visit to France. Randy and I did a quick two nights in Paris on the tail end of our honeymoon in Spain. I was coming off some terrible bug that made me grateful that you can buy antibiotics over the counter in Europe. We made our way to a horrible hotel in the Latin quarter and ate the foil pouch of peanuts available in our room for dinner. That was about all my stomach could handle. But the next day, while Randy went to a business meeting, I walked the streets and eventually found myself in a brasserie, trying out my once quite-good but now-rusty French, and ordering a sandwich that had thin slices of hard-boiled egg, mayonnaise, tomato, and lettuce, on the perfect half of a baguette. I could not believe how good it tasted.

Soon after we were married, Randy and I moved to London for a year, and I went to France no fewer than 4 times that year. The last time was as we were getting ready to move back to the States. We flew to Paris, rented a car, and took our time driving down to Provence, with stops in the Loire Valley, Lyon, and my beloved and still-as-magnificent-as-I-remembered Gorge du Tarn, before meeting up with friends at a villa on a hillside covered with lavender. I was 22 weeks pregnant with Graham. I had felt his first kick sitting and waiting for our luggage in the Charles de Gaul airport. I brought a maternity bathing suit which I used daily at the pool onsite, and one cookbook, Patricia Wells’ The Provence Cookbook, and from that lovely book, I made dinners for a group of 8 every night. We all took the train back to Paris after our magical week and the group watched Llance Armstrong win his 6th Tour de France at the Arc de Triomphe on, or maybe the day before, my birthday. Randy went with me to an art gallery on the Ile St. Louis where my mom and I had seen some amazing paintings on a trip to Paris earlier than spring and, without me  knowing about it, he bought me a painting and had it shipped home. It is my favorite painting in our house, to date.

The next time I went to France, I was the mother of two, and getting ready to celebrate my 40th birthday. It was a seven year dream to go to Paris and buy copper pots and while I did buy a most beautiful copper double boiler (which I have only used a handful of times because it is so beautiful), I also got to go to Cannes on the Cote d’Azur – a region, in all my time spent in France, that I had never visited.

(Our beautiful street for 3 weeks.)

And here I am again. 3 weeks in Cagnes-sur-Mer. A small town between Cannes and Nice. Small enough that it is easy to find our way around, large enough that almost everything we need is here in our town. Including a beach. We have been here a little over a week and have already done day trips to Nice and Antibes, the hill towns of Vence and Grasse, as well as a day at the water park known as Aqualand, in addition to plenty of time spent at our town’s somewhat rocky but still totally acceptable, beach. We visited the small chapel that Matisse was commissioned to create the murals and stained glass for – a chapel I remember studying for my term paper on Matisee in senior year art history, and when my little family and I walked inside, I immediately started to cry. Seeing such works of beauty in person, when you never thought you would actually see them, can be very overwhelming.

The Cote d’Azur is warm. Hot even. Our little place is sweet and, um, little. We are almost at the top of a hill of such epic proportions that we usually opt into taking the free shuttle (the Navette) to it each day. I have been cooking dinner almost every night. It’s not so much that I am inspired by the produce, which – truly – I am not, but that it is relaxing for us to be at home and not trying to figure out whether the boys should eat pizza or pasta for the umpteenth time. At home, we vegetarians can make sure we are getting nourished. It’s not that bad for me – I am happy with salads, but my kids, especially Spencer, are having a harder time. My little kitchen has two burners and I am putting them to work, mostly making simple, but delicious, things. Polenta with cream and Comte cheese stirred into it and topped with homemade ratatouille, omelettes with sautéed mushrooms and radicchio, lots of salad, curried couscous with Le Puy lentils and chickpeas, tagliatelle with goat cheese, oil cured olives, and basil. Nothing fancy but all delicious, made even more so by the fact that we are depleted by the sun and by all the beauty we are seeing each day.

We still hope to see St. Tropez and Monaco. We need to check out the chateau at the top of our extremely steep hill because the town’s Renoir exhibit is temporarily housed there. We might get on a train for a day trip. We might not. We might go to a relatively nearby town in Italy for the Saturday market. We might not. We are going to eat a lot more pizza and a LOT more bread. Spencer has decided that he likes goat cheese and pizza with olives on it and that is more than I could have hoped for him. Graham ate most of a cheese crepe without being too sure about it and I am proud of him for that. They have already been on a 100 year old carousel and, if you asked them, them are hoping for more beach time, more carousels, and more ice cream.

Randy and I have had time to process all that awaits us when we return home. I have already freaked out a couple of times. Being far from home can sometimes make me crave home – stability and things that are known instead of unknown. We will return to Seattle and a brief lull of calm before jumping into a full blown move and throwing our comfortable worlds into chaos. There has been some second guessing, some tears, and finally, the very real thought that this move is the best thing for us at this time. How do you reconcile feelings of caution? When do you say ok, I am just feeling anxious about this big change and when do you say, this is too much for me? That question is what kept me awake for the first 5 nights we were here. Ultimately, I am choosing to move beyond the doubt and celebrate the positive. A friend asked us, as we were trying to make the decision about whether or not to move to San Francisco, if we would regret it someday if we did NOT move. I have come back to that question time and time again. When we were trying to decide whether or not to move to London, I was having a hard time with that decision. Now, looking back 9 years later, there has never been a moment when I have thought, “Wow, we should never have moved to London.” I get it – this is different, kids and schools and jobs and buying and selling homes and 3+ years vs. 1 year makes it all different. But I can’t help but think that if we don’t go, we will both regret it.

We have another week and a half in Cagnes-sur-Mer and then we head to the Nice airport and fly to Paris. We will have six nights there. I hope to do another Cote d’Azur post before we leave. I am having a heck of a time uploading photos so I’m sorry there aren’t more in this post. If you are on Instagram, I am @danatreat and I post photos each day. A bientot!

Petits Pains au Chocolat

October 16, 2009


I was 16 when I tasted my first pain au chocolat.  I had the good fortune to go to a private high school where foreign travel was considered part of the curriculum.  For the French speakers, there was a choice of either a homestay in one city, or the around-the-country bike tour known as SeaCliste (a play on Seattle and bicycliste).  Because I wanted to see as much of the country as I could, I opted for the bike tour.

We got full credit for our three months there which coincided with spring trimester.  We only had to keep a journal in French, speak French the whole time, do the job assigned to us (like be a medic or a mechanic), and complete the trip which, on certain days, was easier said than done.  I will never forget riding my touring bike in the Île de France (the region right around Paris) with a side wind so profound that I was literally blown off my bike several times.  Or spending almost an entire day riding up a snowy mountain road in the Alps only to find that, once we reached the top, someone had made a wrong turn and we had to go right back down again.  Or sleeping in a tent in a supermarket parking lot and being thrilled with the choice because we were under cover from the driving rain.

Of course, I will also never forget feeling the sun on my face for two weeks straight in Corsica.  Or how beautiful it is to take a paddle boat out on Lake Annecy.  Or the kindness of the French people who, all over that amazing country, took pity on the crazy American teenagers in their bike helmets and allowed us to take over their restaurants, homes, and – yes – supermarket parking lots.  And I’ll never forget that first pain au chocolat.


Our starting point for the trip was the medium-sized city of Nantes which is at the easternmost edge of Brittany.  We had a three day homestay with French families but we all met in the town center after getting settled.  One of our group had a French step-father and, since she had spent a fair amount of time in the country, she volunteered to go to the boulangerie to get us some treats.  Always a chocolate lover, I made an immediate dive for the pain au chocolat.  I didn’t know what I was in for, I just could see the chocolate and that was all I needed.

And this is where writing fails me.  How do you describe something so perfect?  The shatter of the pastry and the warmth of the chocolate (because, these many many years later, I still remember the chocolate in that first one was warm), the perfection of the combo…it was an emotional moment for me.  I spent the rest of the trip trying to re-create that initial first bite.  Oh yes, and sampling everything else on offer in each boulangerie that we stopped in which is why I gained 15 pounds, in spite of putting 1500 miles on my bike.

This pain au chocolat is not the one I ate in Nantes.  It is not any of the many I ate throughout France.  But I made it myself and it took about 25 minutes total.  I impressed my children and my husband with this pain au chocolat.  And for now, that’s pretty good.


One Year Ago:  Apple Tartlets with Cinnamon Balsamic Syrup and Butter-Toffee Ice Cream

Petits Pain au Chocolat
Bon Appétit
Makes 24

I couldn’t trust myself with 24 of these things lying around so I halved the recipe and only used one sheet of puff pastry.  I also used one 4 ounce bar of Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate.  I cut each square in half and it seemed to be the perfect size for the pastry square.

2 sheets frozen puff pastry (one 17.3-ounce package, thawed), each sheet cut into 12 squares
1 large egg beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon water (for glaze)
4 3.5-ounce bars imported bittersweet or milk chocolate, each cut into six 2×3/4-inch pieces

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Brush the top of each puff pastry square with egg glaze.  Place 1 chocolate piece on edge of 1 pastry square.  Roll up dough tightly, enclosing chocolate.  Repeat with remaining pastry and chocolate.  Place pastry rolls on baking sheet, seam side down.  (Can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover pastries with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Cover and refrigerate remaining glaze.)

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Brush tops of pastry rolls with remaining egg glaze.  Sprinkle lightly with sugar.  Bake until pastries are golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Two Ingredients

February 17, 2009

I have lived in France twice for short periods of time. The first time was for three months on a bike, and the second was for a semester in Paris during my junior year of college. The first time I gained 15 pounds because I simply could not get over how delicious the pastries were (or the bread, or the cheese, or the chocolate, etc.) The second time I was much more careful and tried to stick only to the bread and a little cheese. Once in a while, I would allow myself a treat and there was never a question of what that would be.

I discovered Palmiers in a small town in Normandy about 1/3 of the way into the bike trip. I was 16, homesick, freezing and wet. The first month of our trip was spent in the Loire Valley and Normandy which, in case you are wondering, is not a good place to be biking in late March and early April. We got rained on, snowed on, and hailed on. We did not see the sun once during the entire month. We were sleeping in tents and biking all day. I only took comfort from my friend Jen, the hope of mail at the next homestay, and bakeries.

By this point in the trip, I had established my favorites in the boulangerie. Pain au chocolat was a given, brioche was always welcome when I wanted something more bread-like, a croissant when I wanted something less sweet. Seeing a Normandy is apple country in France, a whole new world of apple pastries opened up to me and I tried every one of them. One day, when I was feeling particularly homesick and wanting a cookie, I opted for a palmier. The charming butterfly shape disguised what a sophisticated treat this was. They are made from puff pastry so the layers upon layers of butter worked into the dough make each bite shatter under your teeth as you enjoy the flakiness of a croissant and the honey sweetness of lots of sugar. They became a true favorite of mine and I asked for them repeatedly during the rest of that bike trip (this contributed to the 15 pounds I gained, in spite of biking 1500 miles).

When I returned to France 3 years later, I asked for them in boulangeries all over Paris. I have gotten them for my boys here in Seattle whenever I see them. And I’ve made them a few times which I highly encourage you to do. You see, there are two ingredients in this recipe. Puff pastry and sugar. That’s it. Of course you can make your own puff pastry but why? Why when there is DuFour out there? Yes, it’s expensive (about $13 for 14 oz.), but when there are only two ingredients, you need to use the very best. I have no problem using Pepperidge Farm (about $4 for 14 oz.) when I am making something savory – when I know the flavor of the pastry is not the star. But if you are going to make these cookies, and you should, use the best. (Update: Thanks to two helpful comments, I can tell you that both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods carry all-butter puff pastry for less than the DuFour. I will be sure to look for those!  Update #2: In the Seattle area, you can find terrific and reasonably priced puff at DeLaurenti and Grand Central Bakery.  Trader Joe’s seems to be seasonal and I have never found a Whole Foods brand.)


Adapted from The Martha Steward Living Cookbook – The New Classics
Makes about 20

The only real change I made here is an added step of coating each side of the palmiers in more sugar. Yum!

3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for dipping
14 oz. all butter Puff Pastry

1. Sprink half the sugar on a clean work surface. Place the dough on top, and sprinkle evenly with the remaining sugar.

2. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the dough into a 9 x 15-inch rectangle 1/8 inch thick, being careful not to press too hard around the edges. Continually coat both sides with sugar.

3. Place the dough so one of the long sides is closest to you. Using your fingers, roll the dough length-wise into a long cylinder, as tightly as possible without stretching it, as you would a roll of wrapping papers, stopping when you reach the middle. Repeat the same rolling procedure with the other long side until you have 2 tight cylinders that meet in the middle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap; place in the refrigerator to chill at least 1 hour.

4. Unwrap the dough; using a sharp knife, cut the dough crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Dip each side of each slice into a shallow bowl of sugar. Place the palmiers on an ungreased baking sheet, and firmly flatten with the palm of your hand. Cover with platic wrap; place in the refrigerator 1 hour.

5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the palmiers in the oven and bake 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees; continue baking until the pastry is golden brown and well caramelized, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; using a thin spatula, immediately transfer the palmiers to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve shiny side up.

Memories of France

January 29, 2009

My husband Randy is a master finagler. Everything he finagles is above board but he is just one of those amazing people who can ask for things and get them. He spent many years in the Navy and was able to do some incredible things (spend time with the Norwegian Navy, travel in Israel, study in France), all because he asked and they said yes.

This quality served us well the year we lived in London. We went to Euro-Disney for a conference (and a weekend in Paris), we went to Israel for a week so he could meet with a company his employer was thinking of buying. Oh yes, and he got us to London for a year!

Before we moved back to Seattle, and after he had been recruited to work for another company, he finagled a trip around northern Europe so he could “meet the teams.” If you know my husband, you know that he worked hard on that trip. He never doesn’t work hard. But he also got us to Tallin (Estonia), Stockholm, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Paris in the week and a half after we left London.

Once he was done with meetings in Paris, we rented a car and took our time driving south to Provence to meet up with some friends. I will always remember this trip for many different reasons. First, obviously, I got to see cities in Europe that I had never seen which is always thrilling. I was on my way back home to the States which I felt really excited about. I was going to see a part of my beloved France that I had heard so much about but never seen. We were going to witness parts of Llance Armstrong’s historic 6th win of the Tour de France. But perhaps most of all, I was hyper aware of the baby growing in my belly.

Right before we left London, I had an ultrasound (at 16 weeks) which told us that we were going to have a boy. The incredible joy I felt seeing that little fully formed person is difficult to describe – if you have witnessed an ultrasound for your baby-to-be, you know what I am talking about. We were beyond thrilled that he was going to be a boy and over the moon to see that he looked healthy. About a week later, once we had gotten to Stockholm, I started to bleed. Of course, it happened on July 4th, so I was unable to reach a doctor back in the States and the Swedish doctor we spoke to just told me to hang in there and if the bleeding increased, to go immediately to a hospital. My first thought when I woke up, the last thought I had before I drifted off to sleep, and every other thought in between was whether or not I was going to lose that precious baby for days. Once we got in touch with our doctor back home, she told me to stay off my feet as much as possible which is difficult in small European cities where you really just need to walk everywhere.

I did notice that when I took it easy, the bleeding stopped. Once I started walking too much, it would pick back up again. So, as much as I enjoyed the travel on that trip, when we finally made it to Provence, I could breathe easy. We were staying at a property where we had a wonderful room with lots of communal living space and a pool. We weren’t near anything except tiny perfect French towns. I pretty much just took it easy for the first few days. As my fear began to subside, I began to explore the paradise that is Provence. I did see Llance Armstrong come through Nimes (although I was sitting on the sidewalk). I did see countless vineyards and walk through the markets of Arles. I also sat in the sun poolside and got lots of sleep.

Once home, I had another ultrasound and everything looked fine with our baby. Just 17 weeks later he was born and showed himself to be perfect.

So what on Earth does all this have to do with lentils?? This incredible dish (one of my absolute favorites – like take it to a desert island favorites) comes from Patricia Wells’ The Provence Cookbook. It is the one cookbook I took with me on our trip there. Not only did I use it to cook lots of delicious food for our friends that week, but I also used it as a reference. Wells details out where the best markets are, where the best pottery is, and profiles some of her favorite farmers. It is an amazing cookbook but also a resource for traveling in her beloved Provence. Because this book really is a love letter to Provence. I cannot open this lovely cookbook with its sunny cover and inviting prose without thinking of my incredible son, now 4 years old. How worried I was! I had no idea that really, as a mother, you just keep worrying…

Lentils with Capers, Walnuts, Walnut Oil, and Mint
Adapted from
The Provence Cookbook
Serves 4-6

You could use regular lentils in this recipe, but Le Puy lentils are worth seeking out for their firm texture and density. Toasting the walnuts really brings out their flavor so don’t skip that step. The method of cooking the lentils may seem overly fussy here, but I trust Wells implicitly, so I always follow her advice when making this dish.

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt to taste

6 tbsp. walnut oil

1/2 cups (8 oz.) French lentils, such as Le Puy
2 cups vegetable stock

1 carrot, peeled and cut into thirds

1 onion, peeled and stuck with a clove

1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

cup capers in vinegar, drained, rinsed, and chopped if large
1 cup fresh mint leaves

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Place the lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a jar with a screw top (such as a jam jar). Cover and give it a good shake. Add the oil and shake to blend. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

2. Place the lentils in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water. Tranfer them to a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water boils, remove the saucepan from the heat. Transfer the lentils back to the sieve and drain over a sink. Rinse the lentils under cold running water again. Return the lentils to the saucepan, add the stock, season with salt, and bring just to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the carrot and onion. Simmer gently, uncovered, until the lentils are cooked but not mushy. Taste to
make sure. Remove the onion and carrot and discard. If there is still liquid in the pot along with the lentils, drain them once again in the sink.

3. Transer the lentils to a large bowl. Add the walnuts, capers, and a few grinds of pepper. Add the vinaigrette to taste – you may not need all of it. Toss well. Once the lentils have cooled a bit, add the mint and toss again. Can be served warm or room temperature. Keeps 2 days, covered, in the refrigerator.

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