Wash the lentils in cold water, checking for grit, then place in a large pan of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 40 minutes. Add no salt at this stage as it only toughens legumes, although you could add a bouquet garni and a shallot for flavor. The lentils should be tender but not mushy, and, depending on their age, may take a little more or less time, so keep an eye on them.
Meanwhile, if you are using fresh artichokes, just boil them as usual, then remove the leaves and choke, and slice the bottoms into 4 or 6 pieces. Hard-boil the eggs, but not too hard - they are better when just a bit moist in the middle. Cut them into quarters.
When the lentils are cooked, drain well and put into a nice shallow earthenware dish for prettiness. Coat the lentils generously with olive oil while they are still warm, and season with a good grinding of black pepper and salt to taste.
Scatter the green onions over the lentils. Drain the anchovies and arrange over the surface. Place the eggs, artichokes, and olives on top in a pretty pattern, and sprinkle with parsley
© 1999 Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright estate. All rights reserved.