This pan-fried pigeon recipe with a generous helping of herbs is quick to assemble and can make the perfect starter – or, if you increase the portion size, a delicious dinner, says Philippa Davis


As much as I enjoy a garden filled with bright flowers, neatly mowed lawns and a bit of creative topiary, it is always the beds and pots filled with fresh and fragrant herbs I love the most. Visually, I am always impressed how herbs can add not only colour but structure and form to the garden. Plants such as dill and fennel create soft, flowing shapes that shimmy in the breeze while stiffer sprigs of thyme and oregano feel almost architectural.

Brushing past them releases delightful aromatics and I like to include herbs such as rosemary and mint in my flower vases for the table. Besides looking and smelling attractive herbs have, of course, played a more practical role for thousands of years, both in medicine and the kitchen.

Here I share with you a recipe that uses herbs to create a fresh, bright, flavour-packed experience.

For more ideas on how to cook pigeon, take a look at these Woodpigeon sausage rolls or for something a little more comforting give our pigeon pie a go.


Full of flavour and quick to assemble, this dish makes a perfect starter – or, if you increase the portion size, also a delicious dinner. The generous amount of herbs and mustard in the lentils creates a sauce for the dish.

Serves 4, as a starter


4 pigeon breasts, skin off

Pigeon marinade

  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed with a pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 dsp finely chopped thyme
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, to cook

Lentils, asparagus and herbs

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 80g puy lentils
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 50g of roughly chopped soft herbs (I used a mix of parsley, mint, chervil, chives and dill)
  • 8 spears asparagus, trimmed, halved and blanched in boiling water until just cooked
  • 1 dsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Pigeon marinade

Mix the marinade ingredients together with a little seasoning in a bowl, then rub this over the pigeon breasts. Leave for 1 hour.


In a pan on a medium/low heat sauté the onions, celery and carrots with a little seasoning until starting
to soften; this should take about 10 minutes.

Stir in the lentils then add enough cold water to cover by 2cm.

Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the lentils are just cooked (topping up with a little water if necessary).

Once cooked, season the lentils and add the capers, herbs, asparagus, mustard and oil. Keep warm. 

In a frying pan on a medium/low heat gently fry the pigeon breasts in the oil on both sides, I like mine pink, so only do it for 1½ minutes each side. Leave to rest for 1 minute then slice.

Serve the breasts on a warm bed of lentils with a little of the lentil juice spooned on top.