Friday, July 20, 2012

Braised Beluga Lentils – Black Ops and the Caviar of Beans

Braised black lentils, also known as Beluga lentils, since they resemble the most prized of all caviar varieties, is one of my favorite side dishes. That alone would have ensured an eventual appearance on this blog, but it was the suspiciously large number of recent requests that were responsible for today’s post.

I love a good conspiracy theory, so I’m assuming there was some kind of funny business going on…I mean, this could have been the work of some shady international consortium. Was “Big Lentil” responsible? They usually say, “follow the money” in these situations, but I’m not sure how to do that, so I’ll just move on.

This recipe is very straightforward, and as I say, when the lentils are tender, you are done. You’ll need to keep any eye on things after the 25-minute mark, adding a splash of stock if needed. It’s always easier to add than reduce, so don’t be afraid to adjust as you go. Also, be sure to add enough salt. Under-seasoned beans are bad beans. 

One thing I forgot to mention, you might want to pour the cup of lentils on to a plate to check for little rocks. Nothing ruins a great lentil eating experience more than shattering a molar, so it’s worth the two minutes to check. Other than that, not much can go wrong.

By the way, if all the requests for this recipe were the work of some clandestine organization, well, you got what you asked for…now, please leave me alone. I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large portions:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
6 springs fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup black lentils
1 3/4 – 2 cups chicken stock, more as needed
1 tbsp champagne vinegar, or to taste
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

View the complete recipe


Anonymous said...

AHA! The lentil recipe emerges!

Thanks, Chef John! I'll be putting this on my "must try" list!

Vinny from NH said...


Anonymous said...

I must confess. I was one of the people that kept asking you. Thanks so much for posting this. Can't wait to try it.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy your videos very much, thank you. If possible please explain the principle of adding vinegar/acidity here (to this recipe) and in general to any other. Thanks again, Scott.

Murphy said...

Chef John:

Is it possible you could make this into a dip?

Chef John said...

Sure! You can make anything into a dip!

Daniel said...

Hey John,
Perfect! thank you for this great post on braised belugas! Was going to serve this next to a pork tenderloin and like cherry tomato salad... and was thinking of adding in some south tirolean bacon bits to the veggies... what you think? Or will that make this too ham and beans. I have also in the past stirred in a table-spoon of dijon mustard to other types of lentils... think that works well with this as the acid at the end? or makes it too overpowering?

thanks in advance and greets from Vienna

Chris K. said...

This recipe video reminded me of that classic horror film, "The Creature From The Black Legume."

...too much?

Chef John said...

Daniel, taste is subjective, but sounds good to me!

Chris k, it's never too much!

Sandra from Montreal said...

Yay! So happy to see this recipe today! I think these will be really nice served with the "beer butt" chicken and grilled veg we're planning on serving tonight. Thanks again, Chef John.

steven said...

Chef John, how many kinds of vinegar do you have? It seems like a new one appears in every recipe!

Bradlea said...

Chef John, this looks delicious. My boyfriend and I are going to be in the Bay Area starting Tuesday, please let me know when you're going to cook dinner for us ;D

jccraia said...

Talk about conspiracy theories Chef... About the time you merged up with AllRecipes I noticed that videos don't play on Foodwishes anymore... I find myself forced to pump up your numbers on YouTube... Not that I have a problem with that, just wondering why... ?

PH said...

Ahhh...the black lentil beckons and I am heeding it's call!

Roberto said...

Yeah, like "jccraia"I can't run videos directly from the blog either even though I used to able to; however, they do still work with YouTube. I've tried all the recommended fixes for Windows 7, Firefox, etc. but no luck.

Anonymous said...

This looks great, but I need to know if that pun was intended: It's too time(thyme) consuming?

Anonymous said...

tried commenting before but it didn't show..waaaaaaa.
Hey CJ , can you use any other lentils in this dish, as I have never seen black lentils here in Australia.. love your videos!


Chef John said...

Any lentils work, just different coking times.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't find any black lentils so I used regular lentils and followed the recipe exactly. It worked great and was tender between 30-35 minutes. I didn't have champagne vinegar, so I used lemon instead. My husband, children, and sister-in-law really enjoyed the dish. I look forward to making it again!

Locomotive_breath said...

Hi Chef

Even without making this dish I know it is going to be a winner. I have been making these and other lentils ever since I started cooking. I'm Indian, so lentils are an integral part of my diet. Although I'm not a vegetarian, I often base a meal around lentils as the primary source of protein. So kudos for giving the humble legume a place in the spotlight.

Q: Will pressure cooking the lentils for this dish impact the taste adversely? I always use the pressure cooker for cooking lentils and meats...another Indian thing, but sometimes I avoid the pressure cooker to preserve the integrity of the grain and not have it all turn to (very tasty) mush.

Thanks a bunch for your videos. I have a backlog of your dishes that I want to make and that is something I always look forward to.


Anonymous said...

I made this last night with red lentils, and it turned out AWESOME. I accidentally overcooked them, but the flavor was excellent.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this recipe. Fabulous and stupendous. I made it with French green lentils because I could not find Beluga lentils. It was still marvelous. I've got to get one of those freakishly small wooden spoons though.
Your recipes are always fun. I can hear you in my head while I am cooking. (scary sometimes)
The comment about the videos - I have not trouble watching either on the blogspot, allrecipes or youtube. I am using firefox browser though. Maybe that is the key.


Berit said...

I made this with prepared turkey broth, and it was fabulous! A friend who dropped by before going to his martial arts class while I was cooking it couldn't resist eating some (thereby forefiting his chance to go to class--must be done on an empty stomach).

There you have it--Braised Black Belugas: Better than Brazilian Jiujitsu!

I told him, "Better luck next Thyme!"

(No, I didn't.)

Anonymous said...

Does it matter if you use fresh or dried lentils?

Anonymous said...

Chef John,

What can I sub the champagne vinegar with? That stuff is expensive lol

Unknown said...

There it is! Finally found a video recipe for black lentils. I have heard a lot that this caviar delicacy is truly delicious and anyone will crave for it.

And I think I am getting on of those :D Thanks Chef John.

Oli Zepeda said...

Great recipe! I loved having it for dinner today. I had to mention it on my blog. Thanks!

Joy said...

Will this dish work well cold or at room temperature? Thank you!

Super duper mom said...

I actually went out and bought a freakishly small wooden spoon. I love it.

Unknown said...

I bet you could go with the Eastern roots of lentils and use a bit of Aleppo Peppers in this. No why hasn't Chef John delved into these amazing little gems? I really wish he would!

Unknown said...

Rancho Gordo, a northern California bean grower at, has crazy good black lentils and many other fantastic bean choices! Give them a try sometime. I am not a part of a conspiracy just love their beans! Thanks for all you do!*