A couple years ago, we decided to drop cable and stream TV instead. I was hesitant at first, but it turned out to be a wise decision. We’ve saved money and stopped losing hours to junk TV (*cough* Real Housewives). Since cutting cable, I’ve only missed two things – National Geographic documentaries and watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations reruns while I cook dinner.
Anthony Bourdain tops my list of celebrity crushes. Weird, I know. Something tells me he wouldn’t go for an almost vegetarian dietitian. So when I saw the first two seasons of his new show, Parts Unknown, were available on Netflix, I was like “see ya in twelve episodes!” And thus began my three day binge.
Of all the exotic places he traveled, my favorite episode was actually Detroit. I’ve never been, but it’s easy to see what an incredible city it once was. He drew comparisons to Machu Picchu and Akgor Wat, which seemed shockingly accurate.
In one of the scenes, he ate dinner at a fire station with a group of overworked and underfunded firefighters, who served him a homecooked meal of crab cakes and lamb chops. They talked about how all the meals cooked at the firehouse were paid for out of their own pocket. Antony said something along the lines of “If I was cooking for you guys, it would always be peasant food. It would be stews and soups every night.” The firemen did not appear to be a big fan of this prospect.
Peasant food is basically my favorite food. It’s funny to think how it was once looked down upon, considered “poor people” food, but so many dishes we regularly eat once were considered peasant food. Think ribolllita and minestrone in Italy, rataouille in France, and mujadarra in the Middle East. We even have greens & beans with rice here in the South! Being rich in vegetables, whole grains, beans and small amounts, if any, meat, peasant dishes happen to be the healthiest.
This dish, with creamy, deeply flavored lentils, peppery arugula and a simple fried egg is a perfect example of peasant food. Of course, me being me, I couldn’t help but top it off with a little truffle oil!
- 2 slices organic bacon, chopped into lardons
- 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
- 2 small celery ribs, finely chopped
- 2 medium onions or 1 large, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ teaspoons tomato paste
- 1¼ cups green lentils
- 1 quart low sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cups lightly packed arugula, chopped if leaves are large
- Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Truffle oil, for garnish
- Aged balsamic, for garnish
- In a medium pot, add bacon and turn the heat onto medium. Cook until most of the fat has rendered, then add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the lentils and 2½ cups of broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 25 minutes, stirring every so often, until most of the liquid is absorbed. And 1 more cup of broth and simmer until mostly absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add the last ½ cup of broth and simmer until the lentils are tender and have a creamy, stewlike consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet, add olive oil and place on medium heat. Crack the four eggs into the skillet, season with salt and pepper. Cook without flipping until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny.
- Divide the lentil stew between 4 shallow bowls. Top each with a cup of arugula. Place the fried egg on top of the arugula and garnish with a drizzle of truffle oil (or regular olive oil), balsamic and parmesan.