I take no credit for this meal, which is Thomas’s creation. He makes lentils with a fried egg and calls it “cowboy food,” because apparently cowboys ate beans and eggs; so naturally, lentils and eggs… In any case it’s a great meal, a brilliant name, and I have fallen for it, too.
I have decided to write about the easy, quick, weeknight dinners I prepare for my children, and it seemed fitting to start with “cowboy food,” which is an uncontested favorite. The other day as Balthasar asked what I was preparing and I replied “something with egg” (I hadn’t yet made up my mind), completely unprompted – and somewhat surprisingly as we haven’t had lentils for a while – he cheerfully exclaimed “cowboy food!”
I had mentioned cowboy food before in connection with a two-step lentil recipe. This is the quick version of lentils – the whole meal takes only about 35 minutes to prepare, and most of that is the lentils simmering away by themselves.
Two cups make a lot of lentils, but it’s always great to have lentil leftovers. They can easily be reheated, or made into a salad.
2 cups green lentils (preferably Castelluccio or du Puy)
1 small onion
Some vegetables: for example 1/2 bulb fennel, one or two stalks celery, a carrot
A few sprigs of flat-leaved parsley
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Very good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice to serve
1 egg per person
Pick through the lentils to look for small stone intruders that must be discarded. To wash the lentils, cover with cold water and drain in a fine mesh sieve.
Peel and cut into large chunks the onion and the vegetables.
Place lentils into a large saucepan with 4 cups (double the volume) water. Add the vegetable chunks, the parsley, and the bay leaves, bring to a boil and let simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat when the lentils are done to your liking – I like them al dente, with a bit of bite.
Discard the sprigs of parsley, bay leaves, and vegetable chunks. Season the lentils with salt, pepper, good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste and adjust.
**It’s better to cook the eggs once the lentils are ready, because while the lentils are just as delicious warm, the egg should be eaten straight off the pan.**
Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. Once hot, crack the eggs into the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Fry until the white is set but the yellow still runny. Serve over the lentils.