Red Wine Lentils with Confit Cherry Tomatoes & Fennel

Created by Laura Wright
4.84 from 6 votes

A rustic and elegant vegan dinner, my red wine lentils with confit cherry tomatoes and fennel is balanced, hearty, and nourishing. Topped with a fresh and crisp shaved fennel salad and chopped walnuts for flavour and textural contrast.

An overhead shot shows a wide serving bowl containing red wine French lentils, confit fennel slices and cherry tomatoes, a fresh shaved fennel salad on top, and a piece of whole grain bread to the side.

Lentils forever! This recipe for red wine lentils combines French lentils, red wine, shallots, garlic, thyme, and smoked paprika for perfectly tender and robustly flavoured legumes that take about 45 minutes. Cooked on the stove, this simple lentil recipe emerges from the pot perfectly soft with a bit of chew left for texture. Serve these rich lentils warm with tender and rich confit cherry tomatoes and fennel, which bubble away in the oven as the lentils simmer. A fresh, shaved fennel salad tops the dish for contrast.

An overhead shot shows ingredients for a vegan main course that features French lentils, fennel, cherry tomatoes, herbs, garlic, and walnuts.
An overhead shot shows olive oil being poured on top of cherry tomatoes, sliced fennel, thyme sprigs, and garlic cloves in a baking dish.

I love to confit cherry tomatoes near the end of summer when there’s so many of them. To confit something simply refers to cooking and preserving it in fat. In this case, we combine the tomatoes with chopped fennel, thyme, and garlic, and cover that with olive oil before letting it all bubble away in the oven for about 45 minutes. The end result is silky, tender, extra flavourful veg and a delicious infused oil.

Once cooled, we pack this preparation of cherry tomatoes and fennel into a jar. From here, I will refrigerate it for 1 month or freeze for up to 3 months. Just ensure that the oil covers the top of the vegetables when you do this. The veg and oil can be spooned over creamy dips or enjoyed with appetizer boards. For mains, add to grain bowls, stir into veg pasta, or top pizza/focaccia.

To enjoy these beautiful vegetables, I serve them on top of slowly simmered red wine lentils. I made these with inspiration from a classic Zuni Cafe Cookbook recipe. The tender and earthy French lentils soak up the flavours of shallots, garlic, smoked paprika, and thyme. The red wine brings acidity and depth. It’s a great lentil main or side that serves as the perfect landing place for our confit veg. The whole dish is a cozy and satiating, but still light and fresh.

Once the confit veg are in the oven, the lentils take about the same amount of time to cook. It all comes together seamlessly if you do your prep first! I finish this dish with a fresh shaved fennel salad from the other half of the fennel bulb. The contrast of the silky and soft confit fennel with the fresh in the salad is just chef’s kiss!

An overhead shot shows: a pot of red wine lentils, a baking dish of confit cherry tomatoes and fennel, and a small bowl filled with fresh shaved fennel salad.
An overhead shot shows a wide serving bowl containing red wine French lentils, confit fennel slices and cherry tomatoes, a fresh shaved fennel salad on top, and a piece of whole grain bread to the side.
An up close, overhead shot shows a wide serving bowl containing red wine French lentils, confit fennel slices and cherry tomatoes, a fresh shaved fennel salad on top, and a piece of whole grain bread to the side.

Red Wine Lentils with Confit Cherry Tomatoes & Fennel

A rustic and elegant vegan dinner, my red wine lentils with confit cherry tomatoes and fennel is balanced, hearty, and nourishing. Topped with a fresh and crisp shaved fennel salad and chopped walnuts for flavour and textural contrast.
4.84 from 6 votes
An overhead shot shows a wide serving bowl containing red wine French lentils, confit fennel slices and cherry tomatoes, a fresh shaved fennel salad on top, and a piece of whole grain bread to the side.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Confit Cherry Tomatoes & Fennel

  • ½ large fennel bulb, trimmed
  • 3 ½ cups cherry or grape tomatoes (1 ¼ lbs)
  • 5 peeled garlic cloves
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¾ -1 cup olive oil

Red Wine Lentils

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, small dice
  • 1 stick celery, small dice
  • 1 small carrot, small dice
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup French lentils, picked over
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 1 ½ – 2 ½ cups vegetable stock

Fennel Salad:

  • ½ large fennel bulb trimmed
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped

Notes

  • If you want to skip the lentil part and just enjoy the confit fennel and tomatoes, I recommend spooning them and the oil over creamy dips, having with appetizer boards, as part of grain bowls, stirred up in a veg pasta, smushed into the top of focaccia dough, on top of pizza etc!
  • The confit fennel and cherry tomatoes will keep in the fridge (with all veg submerged in the oil) for a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • My go-to red wine varieties for cooking: merlot (super silky smooth), cabernet sauvignon (full bodied) or pinot noir (lighter, not too overpowering).
  • The red wine lentils are based on a classic Zuni Cafe Cookbook recipe.

Instructions

Confit Cherry Tomatoes & Fennel

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and set out a 2 quart baking dish.
  • Slice the fennel thinly (no need to remove core). Add the fennel to the baking dish along with the tomatoes, garlic cloves, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pour the oil over top and give everything a gentle stir to coat. Ensure that all veg are touching the oil base before placing in the oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until fennel is very soft. I like to pop in and carefully stir everything up a few times as it bakes. The tomatoes will release juice as they cook.

Red Wine Lentils

  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Pour in the olive oil and swirl it around. Add the shallots, celery, and carrots and stir. Sauté the vegetables until tender and shallots are translucent, about 7-8 minutes. Lower the heat if veg are browning too fast. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the garlic, smoked paprika, and thyme. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the Dijon mustard and French lentils and stir to combine. Add the red wine and stir. Add 1 ½ cups vegetable stock and stir once more. Bring the lentils up to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.
  • Simmer the lentils until they’re just tender and the liquid has been absorbed, adding splashes of extra vegetable stock as needed. This process takes about 30-35 minutes total. Check the lentils for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Keep warm.

Fennel Salad

  • Using a mandolin, thinly shave the fennel into a bowl. To the bowl, add the parsley, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and two tablespoons of the oil from the confit. Toss to combine.
  • Serve the red wine lentils warm with portions of the confit fennel and cherry tomatoes on top. Divide the fennel salad among the portions and top with the chopped walnuts.
A 3/4 angle image shows a wide serving bowl containing red wine French lentils, confit fennel slices and cherry tomatoes, a fresh shaved fennel salad on top, and a piece of whole grain bread to the side.
23/08/2023
Posted in: autumn, carrots, earthy, gluten free, lentils, main course, refined sugar-free, roasted, salty, side dish, smoky, sour, summer, tomatoes, umami, vegan

7 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Josephine

    Hello, if you don’t have French lentils but do have pardina lentils would you do anything different? Thank you!

    • Laura Wright

      Pardina lentils are great! You don’t have to change anything. My hunch is that the Pardina lentils will cook a bit faster, so just keep an eye on them.
      -L

  • Jessie

    5 stars
    This was delicious! Made it for my meat eating parents, and everyone was happy. The tomatoes were really special.

  • Lili

    4 stars
    Slow cooking at its best! Simple and doesn’t make a mess in the kitchen. The dish is delicious and comforting; perfect on a September sunday night. Thanks Laura

  • Claudia

    5 stars
    Rave reviews from my son-in-law & daughter!!! Made this for their dinner last night. While the confit cherry tomatoes & fennel was in the oven, I prepped the fennel salad & red wine lentils. Lentils smelled delicious. Plus I had a few spoonfuls to taste test before packaging up for their meal delivery. Easy any night meal. Thanks, Laura. xoxo

  • Jillian lazor

    This looks like a wonderful transitional dish. Acknowledging that it likely won’t be as delicious as the original recipe, do you have a preferred or recommended substitute for red wine?

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Jillian!
      I would substitute with the same amount of vegetable stock and finish with a splash of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar. I would also ensure that your vegetable stock is really flavourful from the start!
      -L