I admit, I am standing proud and tall right in the center of the 'Mmmmm... bacon!' bandwagon, even though it has already been overused to the point of pain. But I can't help it. Bacon is tasty, and just a strip or two adds so much flavor to an otherwise veggie dish that my guys don't even miss a full serving of meat. What's not to love?
It'll come as no surprise then that when I saw a link on one of my regularly-visited food blogs to a recipe for lentils and bacon, I knew it would be mine. And when I clicked through and learned it was adapted from one of Anne Burrell's recipes, it was all over. I have a complete chef-crush on Anne Burrell, and I watch her show regularly. In fact, I had seen this recipe just a couple of weeks ago but the fennel bulb scared me off - I've never cooked fennel bulb. But The Amateur Gourmet's version solved that problem for me. Win!
I started with Anne's original recipe (which apparently has a grievous typo in the amount of vinegar used for finishing) and bounced it against The Amateur Gourmet's mods, which omitted the fennel bulb and corrected the amount of red wine vinegar.
I used the small green lentils, but only because I found a small bag in the pantry that I had bought on spec who knows how long ago. I'm glad I did, too. The green boys held their shape when cooked, where the brown lentils probably would have pretty much disintegrated. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, really.) I also upped the amount of onion/celery/carrot to about 3/4 cup each.
Since I was serving it as an entree, I dished it over brown rice (2:1 lentils:rice) and it was downright tasty. I really appreciated how the bacon fat/red wine vinegar/coarse mustard combined into a dressing.
Next time I will probably add the cooked rice right in, a lá Gallo Pinto. I'll also omit the olive oil in the beginning. I've been cooking bacon for a l-o-n-g time and I just don't see the need to add two more tablespoons of fat to the dish. I may also up the amount of vegs further, to a cup each. And who knows? I might even get brave and try that fennel bulb thing.
With all the veg prep, it takes a little too long to be Project Weeknight-eligible, and I'm not sure my son would eat it, but it was a lovely simple dinner for us adults and it made fabulous, easy-to-reheat lunches as well.
And did I mention? Bacon!