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Lentils with pancetta and pistou

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for lentils with pancetta and pistou by David Young from Sydney's Cafe Nice.

By David Young
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 35 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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Lentils with pancetta and pistou
“Lentils are often overlooked,” says chef David Young. “I don’t know why, because they’re bloody delicious. Go Puy-style lentils – they’re tiny dark green gems that retain more of their shape and texture after cooking.”


  • 200 gm small green lentils
  • 450 ml chicken stock, plus extra for topping up
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 1 carrot, halved
  • 1 celery stalk, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 40 gm flat mild pancetta, cut into thick lardons
  • 20 gm pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup (firmly packed) basil
  • 150 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for storing
  • To taste: lemon juice


  • 1
    Cover lentils with cold water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Strain, return lentils to a clean pan and add enough stock to cover by 2cm. Add vegetables, garlic and herbs, place a round of baking paper directly on the lentils and simmer over low heat until lentils are tender but not falling apart (15-20 minutes; top up with extra stock if necessary). Remove from heat and season to taste. Discard vegetables and herbs and keep warm.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, for pistou, toast pine nuts in a dry pan over medium-high heat, stirring continuously, until golden and fragrant (1-2 minutes), then set aside to cool. Pound pine nuts, garlic and a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle to a smooth paste. Add basil a handful at a time, pounding well between each addition, until a fine paste forms. While still pounding, gradually add oil until creamy and combined, season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and lemon juice and transfer to a container. If you’re not using pistou immediately, pour a thin layer of oil on top to prevent discolouration and refrigerate until required; pistou will keep refrigerated for 2 days. Bring to room temperature before using.
  • 3
    Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add pancetta and fry, stirring occasionally, until fat renders and pancetta begins to turn golden (4-5 minutes), then add lentils and enough cooking liquid to moisten and bring to the boil (same heat). Just before serving, stir in a generous spoonful of pistou, season to taste and serve hot.


This recipe is from the May 2013 issue of .

  • undefined: David Young