Itís remarkable how a modest amount of smoked meat can make plain-Jane legumes so unctuous. Whether New England baked beans with bacon, Cuban black beans with sausage or these lentils with ham, itís a time-honored way to make a little go a long, delicious way.
1. Place lentils, wine, carrot pieces, onion halves, celeriac (if using) and bay leaves in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover lentils by about an inch. Bring to gentle simmer over medium-high flame. Skim froth from the surface, then stir in garlic, rosemary and pepper. Reduce heat to maintain a steady, low simmer and cook the lentils, uncovered, until they are barely tender, 35-50 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, mustard and a little salt and pepper in a large, attractive bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until mixture is smooth.
3. When lentils are tender, remove the carrot, onion and celeriac pieces. Drain off excess liquid, then place lentils back over a low flame for a moment or two to dry off more.
4. Chop the ham into bite-size pieces. Add lentils and ham to the dressing in the bowl; add salt and pepper to taste and toss gently. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until lentils have absorbed the dressing, 10-15 minutes.
5. Stir in parsley and red onions. Serve warm.
Copyright by Terese Allen