French caviar, a.k.a. tiny green lentils from France, is a moniker given because as far as lentils go, they are at $3 per pound the world's most expensive lentils. Grown in volcanic soil in the protected sun splashed area of Auvergne, these tiny, green, gray, 2000- year-old, nutty and peppery tasting, low starch legumes maintain their toothsome texture when cooked. Italian couscous, a.k.a. fregola, is a Sardinian style toasted semolina pasta. While available in small, medium, and large size, the medium cooks up more or less the same size as the lentils where it is front and center rather than relegated to a supporting role on the plate. Although a native of Central America, the only green beans any respectable French chef would be cooking are haricot vert, a smaller and tangier version of the common green bean. It is also expected that, like Italian pasta, they are cooked only al dente...gone are the days of love 'em or hate 'em mushy string beans slathered in mushroom soup and served with some processed onion crunchies on top. This plate is so much better, healthier, and worthy of serving year round. In colder months, this is a welcome side dish to a roast chicken or leg of lamb. When the sun is shining and the party is outdoors, this salad can be served with little fear of wilting or becoming a soggy mess. Best served family style and when just before forks and spoons are ready to dive in, the host ceremoniously slices into the poached egg and quickly tosses the salad to insure everyone gets a mouth watering yellow sunshine bite.


cuisine French
difficulty Moderate
season Summer
serves 6


  • 1/2 cup French lentils du puy
  • 1/2 cup Italian couscous
  • 1/2 pound haricot vert, trimmed
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 to 3 ounces crumbled feta
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 eggs, poached
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar


  1. Bring 1 quart of water and the lentils to a boil in a small saucepan. Lower the temperature and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain.
  2. Bring the couscous and 1 cup of water to boil in a small saucepan. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
  3. Bring a LARGE POT of water to a rolling boil. Salt generously. Drop the haricot vert into the pot for 1 minute. Using a strainer, lift the beans out and immediately plunge into a large bowl of ice water. When cool, drain, pat dry, and reserve.
  4. Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, the shallots, Dijon, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in the bottom of a SERVING BOWL. 
  5. Add the lentils and the couscous to the dressing and gently toss. Add the green beans, feta, scallion, and lemon juice and toss again. Transfer to serving vessel and set aside.
  6. Fill a MEDIUM POT 2/3 full with cold water and bring to a rolling boil. Turn the head down to simmer and add 2 tablespoons vinegar.
  7. Crack the eggs, one at a time into a ladle with a large bowl. Lower the ladle and gently tip it to slide the egg into the barely simmering water. Repeat with second egg.
  8. Cook for  4 minutes, just until the white is completely set but the yolk remains runny (this is important because it will be mixed into the finished salad).
  9. Use a slotted spoon to remove the poached egg from the water and gently pat dry with a paper towel.
  10. Just before serving, top the salad with the eggs, season with Maldon Sea Salt Flakes and freshly ground pepper.