Lentils with bacon and mint


When my mom came to visit last month, she brought one of the best gifts a mom from Wisconsin can give: several pounds of Nueske’s bacon. Oh, you don’t know Nueske’s bacon?

Then, my friend, you have not had bacon. Nueske’s is like, the cream of the bacon crop. The sort of bacon that makes you happy to be a carnivore. I know I’m prone to hyperbole, but really, it’s no joke.

Because I have a large but limited supply every time she visits, I try to stretch it out, and believe me, a little goes a long way. This, combined with my ‘eat-less-meat’ household campaign, and you get lots of bean dishes flavored with bacon.

This is one of my favorites lately. I use French, or Puy, lentils, the little speckled dark green ones. They are really nice for this because they keep their shape better and still look really pretty when cooked, unlike the larger tan ones which fall apart more easily.

Three strips of bacon. That’s all it takes to take this dish from silver to gold.

Lentils with bacon and mint
1 cup French lentils
3 strips of your favorite streaky bacon, diced, preferable Nueske’s, if you can get your greedy hands on it
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
½ medium onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
a handful of mint, chopped finely
a couple of grinds of black pepper

  1. Pick over and rinse the lentils. Place them in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, and cover with the water. Add the bayleaf. Bring the lentils to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  2. When the lentils are cooked, drain them in a colander, reserving about a cupful of the liquid. Discard the bay leaf. Set aside the lentils.
  3. Set the saucepan or Dutch oven back over medium heat. When hot, add the bacon. Fry until crispy and brown. (Don’t drain the oil). Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft. Add the cumin and fry until fragrant.
  4. Add the lentils and salt and pepper. If the mixture looks dry, stir in some of the reserved liquid. Simmer for another couple minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the mint.
  6. We eat this with rice, but it’s probably also very good with crusty bread.

Nueske’s bacon
Crispywaffle: Tofu with peanut sauce