We just returned from our annual two week vacation in Michigan. I have been going there in the summer my whole life, and it’s my favorite place in the world (and quickly becoming my kids’). We’re definitely going through withdrawal. It’s a place synonymous for me with a sparkling cerulean lake peeping through the dune grass, cartoonishly juicy summer berries, the sweetest corn on the cob and the crunch of sand underfoot indoors or out. The air is fresh, the people are friendly and the days are slow. A midwestern summer at its finest. You wouldn’t think lentils with curried yogurt and poached eggs would evoke feelings of this idyllic midwest retreat. Alas, Harbor Country will surprise you with its quirky charm. This dish is inspired by a menu staple at my favorite local haunt. Luisa’s Cafe is the type of place that combines midwestern kitsch, Scandinavian and Italian roots and farm-to-table ethos, with a menu that abounds with GF and vegan options and ingredient sources in a decidedly non-fussy and laid back way. It’s the best, and I make a point of visiting at least three times during every trip.
I always have to order the lentils and poached eggs (along with a side of the buckwheat Swedish pancakes, of course). This is the type of meal my body craves, with nutrient-dense proteins, healthy fats, fresh greens and savory spices. I always leave feeling energized and nourished. In my version, French lentils are cooked slightly al dente and tossed with a shallot vinaigrette while warm so the lentils soak up the tangy flavor of the dressing. Lentils and poached eggs are always a winning combo, but the addition of curried yogurt adds creaminess and depth of flavor that really sets this dish apart. Fresh herbs, greens and quick-pickled shallots add freshness and acidity to round out the flavors.
This is a dish that can satisfy at any meal. It is also meal-prep friendly, because all components can be prepped ahead and assembled later. A few notes: I prefer French lentils or black lentils here (and for all lentil salads), because they hold their shape better and are less prone to the dreaded mush — the downfall of many a lentil salad. I find that lentils cook better in unsalted water; to properly season them after cooking, I toss the lentils with salt immediately after draining while still warm. If I am prepping this dish ahead, I will make soft-boiled eggs rather than poached for ease of storage and transport.
Happy summer! I hope you enjoy. Xo Maggie
For the lentils:
- 1 cup lentils (french green or black)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs, chopped (parsley, cilantro, dill or a mixture), plus more for serving
- 2 tbsp shallot, minced (1 small or 1/2 large)
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt, preferably full-fat
- 2 tsp curry powder
- Small pinch salt and pepper
- 4 eggs
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- Rinse and drain the lentils. Place in a small pot with 2 cups water and bay leaf. Over medium-high heat, bring to a rapid simmer, then reduce heat to low. Cook at a gentle simmer until lentils are tender, but not mushy — about 20-25 minutes. Add more water, if necessary, to keep the lentils covered as they cook. When lentils are ready, drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Transfer to a large bowl and mix with 1 tsp of salt and 3/4 of the dressing. Set aside.
- While the lentils cook, make the dressing and the curried yogurt. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until emulsified. In another bowl, mix together the yogurt, curry powder and salt and pepper until combined. Set aside.
- Poach the eggs. Fill a small pot (I use the same one I used for the lentils) with water about 3″ deep. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer (a few small bubbles escaping the surface). Add 2 tbsp vinegar. Crack eggs into a small cup. Swirl the water with a spoon to create a vortex so the egg white folds into itself. Tilt the cup into the swirling water and gently slide in the egg. Cook the egg for 3 minutes. The whites should be set and the yolk runny. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a towel. Repeat with remaining eggs.
- To serve: Add a handful of greens to each plate. Top with a large scoop of lentils. Drizzle with more of the dressing. Add a dollop of yogurt and a poached egg. Top with more herbs. Serve with toasted bread. Enjoy!
This recipe is conducive to prepping ahead. The lentils get even more flavorful as they sit and soak up the dressing. If I am prepping ahead, particularly for on-the-go, I will make soft-boiled eggs rather than poached for ease of storage and transport.
If using a large shallot, you’ll only need half for the dressing, so I like to quick-pickle the other half. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp honey, 1 tsp sea salt and 2 tbsp water. Thinly slice the remaining shallot and add to the bowl, allowing it to pickle while you prepare the rest of the components. Totally optional!