These lentils are lovely to serve at this time of year. They will take longer than usual to cook, as the acidity of the wine lengthens the time they take to become tender, but the flavour develops and mellows over the cooking time.
3 tbsp mild-tasting olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
300g/10oz small lentils, such as Puy
1 generous sprig of thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
250ml/8fl oz of medium-bodied red wine
750ml/11/4 pints of fresh chicken stock
A little extra olive oil for drizzling
Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the carrots, celery, onions and a small pinch of salt, and stir for about five minutes.
Once the vegetables have softened, add the lentils, bay and thyme. Pour over the wine and half of the chicken stock. Raise the heat slightly to a gentle simmer, then cook uncovered, stirring every now and then.
Add more stock as you need, allowing the lentils to absorb the liquid before adding any more. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are nutty and just tender.
Season well with salt, as they will need it. Stir in a little more olive oil just before serving with the quail.