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Lenticulam (Lentils With Leeks)
Arwen Southernwood

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Original Recipe

Aliter Lenticulam (Lentils Another Way):

Apicius, #184
Cook the lentils, skim them, add leeks, green coriander; crush coriander seed, flea-bane, laser root, mint seed and rue seed moistened with vinegar; add honey, broth, vinegar, reduced must to taste; then oil, stirring until it is done, bind with roux, add green oil, sprinkle with pepper and serve.  [Vehling, p. 128]



2 cups lentils
dash salt
1 large leek, sliced into rings
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed dried mint leaves or 1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup red wine, boiled to reduce by half
1/4 cup olive oil
bread crumbs or flour for thickening
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

Preparation Steps

Cook the lentils in boiling salted water until al dente, about 15 minutes.  Drain, rinse, and return to pot.  Add leeks and cilantro.  Grind together coriander seed, garlic, mint, celery seed, and 2 teaspoons vinegar, and add to pot.  Add honey, broth, remaining vinegar, reduced wine, and 1/4 cup olive oil.  Cook for an additional 30-40 minutes, until lentils are soft and leeks are cooked through.  If needed, thicken with bread crumbs or flour.  Remove to serving dish, drizzle remaining oil on top, and sprinkle with ground pepper. 

Number of Servings

Eight 1/3 cup servings.

Redaction Notes

Giacosa suggests garlic as a substitute for the now-extinct laser root.  The “flea-bane” has been omitted entirely from this redaction.   Mint leaves are substituted for mint seed, as the latter is not commercially available in food-grade quantities.  Rue has been found to cause some health problems, so celery seed is substituted for the rue seed.

Thanks to Aethelind for her assistance and input!


  • Giacosa, Ilaria Gozzini (Herklotz, Anna, translator).  A Taste of Ancient Rome.  The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1992.  ISBN 0-226-29032-8. 
  • Vehling, Joseph Dommers (translator). Apicius:  Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome.  Dover Publications Inc., New York, 1977.  ISBN 0-486-23563-7. 

Date Of Redaction

February, 2003.

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