Pick the leaves from the parsley stalks. Reserve half the stalks for another occasion (stock perhaps?), then chop the rest very finely.
In a medium saucepan, heat a little of the oil, add the onion, carrot, celery and chopped parsley stalks and cook for 4–5 minutes, or until softened and sweetened. Rinse the
lentils in a sieve, decant to the saucepan and pour in enough cold water to cover by about 3 cm. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
There won’t be much water left by the end, which is preferable to having to drain off the flavoursome cooking liquor. Ideally there’ll be the equivalent of a mugful, which ensures the lentils are loose rather than stiff. Add a little extra hot water if necessary.
Chop the parsley leaves very finely.
Once the lentils are cooked, add the parsley, tarragon and mint and the capers, the remaining oil and lemon zest and juice. Stir, taste, season with salt and enjoy.
ALONGSIDE: (other recipes from On the Side) Gem lettuce, mint and spring onion
(page 86); Smoky ratatouille (page 114); Leeks vinaigrette with crisp-fried leeks (page 142); Anise-braised spring onions (page 148); Burnt sweet onion petals with cucumber (page 150)