Cook tiny French lentils until just tender and toss with a tangy shallot vinaigrette. Add diced fennel, fresh mint, and soft goat cheese and you have a dish that strikes a balance of rustic and elegant. It's enormously satisfying and nourishing. Enjoy as a main course lunch or supper or a side dish to roast chicken or fish.
Rinse the lentils with water in a colander and look over carefully, removing any tiny stones or debris. Put in a medium pot with the garlic and bay leaf and cover by 3 inches with water. Bring to a boil. Once water boils, drop the heat until it simmers. Simmer for 10 minutes, add 2 teaspoons salt, and continue simmering until the lentils are just tender, but not mushy (15 to 20 minutes total simmer time).
While the lentils cook, in a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, salt, vinegar, oil, several cracks of black pepper, and sumac. Add the shallot and whisk again.
Notes: French lentils, also called lentils de Puy, are smaller and darker in color than standard green lentils. They hold their shape well when cooked and are well suited for salads.