French lentils are small, gray-green (sometimes they are called lentilles vertes, or green lentils), and less prone to turning mushy when cooked than their paler-colored cousins are. The lentils that come from Puy (lentilles vertes du Puy), in the Auvergne region (smack in the center of France), have their own AOC and are thought to have been grown in the area since Roman times. Like all legumes, lentils of any kind should be stored in a cool, dry place (they’ll keep almost indefinitely) and must be rinsed thoroughly and picked through for bits of stone and field dirt. (For basic instructions on cooking lentils, see page 367-68.)

Dorie Greenspan