A vegetarian version of the Lyonnaise classic
Based on the Lyonnaise classic 'Salade de Pieds de Veau' served at Brasseries Georges, this green lentil salad is traditionally cooked with Calves’ feet, which are stewed right down, and diced finely, pairing excellently with the earthy puy lentils punchy Dijon mustard-and-chive dressing. I was determined to share the experience with a vegetarian friend of mine, so this meat-free version was born, and comes as close as I could make it to the spirit of the original. The carrots, herbs and lentils are cooked together for a deep savoury flavour, the floury potato and egg for recreating the pseudo-gelatinous effect of the calves' feet, and the mustard, creme fraiche, capers, red onion and vinegar for that typical French piquancy. An excellent dinner party starter as it can be served cold so you don't even have to worry about keeping it warm - or could easily be turned into a main dish when paired with a good quality crusty baguette and a bottle of Côtes du Rhône!
You Will Need
Bring the lentils to the boil in well-salted water with the bay leaves, lots of ground black pepper, and the large potato and carrot pieces. The idea here is to cook the veg in the lentil stock, so that the flavours mingle, but remove the veg as soon as they are done, so keep the sections large enough to easily remove. The potato will probably be done first, but the carrots may take a little longer- you want them soft and fully taking on the flavours of the lentil stock for this recipe. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, hard boil the 2 eggs.
Once the veg, lentils and eggs are done, allow everything to cool. Then finely dice the veg and peeled eggs into pieces roughly the same size as the lentils and add them to a large salad bowl, along with the cooked lentils, the parsley, the capers and most of the chives (save about a 1/4 for garnishing).
Now to make the dressing. Place your egg yolk in a blender and blend with 1 tbsp of the Dijon mustard, and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Now, with the motor running, VERY slowly trickle in the oil (too fast and this might split, so take your time) until the oil is all gone, and you've made a basic mayonnaise. Take about 4 heaped tbsp of this mayo and mix in a second bowl with the creme fraiche, worcestershire sauce, white wine vinegar and remaining 2 tbsp mustard.
Toss 3/4 of the dressing gently through the salad, until it's all well coated. Taste the salad - add more chives, caper vinegar or dressing if required. Fill a ramekin or small bowl with enough salad to fill, and turn out upside down onto a small plate. The mixture should hold together to form a dome on the plate. Garnish with additional chives, 2-3 finely sliced red onion rings, and scatter around a few fresh, halved cherry tomatoes. (Any leftover mayo and dressing from this recipe will go great the next day with poached salmon, watercress and some buttered, boiled new potatoes)