When travelling in France don’t just concentrate on the Michelin restaurants with their haute cuisine; get into the bistros and cafes with their traditional food and local clientele.

The repertoire of French regional food is vast and can often be challenging to cook. It is not surprising that many chefs have left their Michelin starred establishment to launch rustic bistros with fixed price menu options. In these establishments the food is heart-warming, belly filling and most importantly it offers the visitor a glimpse into the type of classic home-cooked food that, alas, you will not find in many homes any more. If you need a guide, look for Patricia Well’s book “The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris”.

A rich cassoulet (a dish of duck confit, white beans and sausages), a bubbling potato and celeriac gratin, tangy leeks in vinagraitte and tender Coq au vin are all well worth a bite. But in the spring and summer “lentilles en salade” can be unexpectedly delicious. Lentils are deservedly popular for their earthy taste, cheap price and healthy attributes; they come alive in salads such as this one.

Lentil Salad

Lentil salad with goat cheese, beets and rocket

Serves 4

  • 300 grams of green French lentils
  • 330 gram jar of cooked beetroot
  • 140 gram container of Chavroux goat cheese or feta
  • 50 gram packet of rocket

Dressing

  • 3 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tblsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • sea salt and ground black pepper

Wash the lentils and put them in boiling water, simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until done (they should be a little chewy).

Make the dressing by mixing the ingredients.

When lentils are done, season with a little salt and drain.

Wait for them to cool down.

Mix the lentils with the dressing. Put lentils on plate and place beetroot, goat cheese and rocket on top.