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Lentilles de Puy (lentils) & Cauliflower

French Lentils and Cauliflower

Little green lentils by any other name might be Lentilles de Puy.

Frequently when one says lentils they mean the red, yellow or smoky green dried peas that are the basis of lentil soup or stew.  Lentilles de Puy are smaller, blackish, green and have a very distinct flavor.  A flavor that is arguably different than the ones most familiar.  Think ham and pea soup. These are different. Tossed with a French vinaigrette, they are a perfect salad topper.  Add a fruity olive oil and herbs de Provençe for a delicately flavored side dish.  Sometimes called a poor man’s caviar, but really are so tasty on their own, and not the least bit fishy, that its not a fair moniker.

What on earth does Puy mean?

Puy is a place. In France.  It is the region from whence the lentils hale.  Flavored from the soil of the region, as we have come to understand is the case with much of what is grown, the taste is delicately peppery according to some.  In the same way that Balsamic Vinegar from Modena is only to be labeled as such, this is the same with these.

Can Lentilles de Puy be used in place of regular lentils?

NO.  Ok, perhaps if the daylights are cooked out of them, but the flavor is vastly different as well as the texture.  The speckled black and green rounds hold together firmly when cooked.  At a dinner party where these were one of the star attractions a guest stated under her breath, ahhh, I never thought of serving them al dente. They were not al dente, they are simply lentils that hold their own in the pot and do not break down to mush in the way that other lentils do.  The reason is thus, there is an exterior shell that holds the innards in.  It is easily bitten through, yet strong enough to hold the soft inside together.

Other Recipes

French Lentils with Garlic and Thyme, Nigella Lawson, NYT
Crushed Puy Lentils with Tahini and Cumin, Yotam Ottolenghi
Sausages with Puy Lentils, Delia Smith

Lentilles de Puy or Puy Lentils

You say tomato, I say to-mah-toe.  French lentils, Puy Lentils, or Lentilles de Puy, they are all the same.  The French pronunciation of Lentilles de Puy sounds a little more snazzy and might impress someone, plus it is what they are really called.

Who can eat so much arugula?

For some reason arugula comes prepackaged in rather large bags or boxes.  I like it, but would not say it is on my lettuce list as a nightly salad of choice.  But it does serve a flavor purpose.  Looking at a rather large container of it in the fridge veggie bin, it seemed like the perfect backdrop for the cauliflower and lentils.  As cauliflower roasts, and in particular with the tomato sauce being cooked into it, the sweetness was a nice balance with the peppery-ness of the mildly peppery lentils and the strong bite of the arugula. Wilted, it became more pronounced.

French Lentils and Cauliflower
French Lentils or Puy Lentils

There will be several pots going at once on the stove.

Lentilles de Puy (lentils) & Cauliflower

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 45 minutes


  • 12 oz/345 g Lentilles de Puy
  • 32 oz water/1 L water
  • 1 small head of cauliflower or 1 bag of frozen cauliflower florets
  • 8fl oz/250ml water
  • 8 oz/230g tomato sauce
  • 4 oz/125g fresh arugula
  • olive oil
  • fresh thyme





Place lentils in a strainer and rinse.


Pour water into a large pot and put lentils in.


Add a bit of salt.


Bring to a boil.


Reduce to a simmer and cook for 2-25 minutes until they are softened enough to be easily bitten into, but firm enough that they are not mush.


When they are ready, drain and set aside.




Cut the florets from the cauliflower and put into a saucepan with 8 oz/250ml water.


Add tomato sauce.


Put on a medium heat and steam.


The water should be totally gone and the sauce absorbed into the cauliflower.


Add salt and pepper to taste.




Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Add arugula and toss until it is wilted. It will reduce drastically in quantity. Do not cook it until dry, it should be just wilted and moist.




Place a bed of arugula on plate, either individual servings or one large platter.


Top with the lentils.


Arrange the cauliflower on top of the lentils.


Scatter the sprigs of thyme over the top and serve warm or at room temperature.


It sounds a little chaotic, but really it is not. The lentils cook themselves while the other parts are being prepared.

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