Monday, July 28, 2008

Lentil Salad


Brown lentils, also known as continental or Egyptian lentils, are generally the least expensive and the easiest to get of all the gazillion types of lentil. They are milde in flavour and hold their shape well after cooking, although they easily turn mushy if overcooked. They can be cooked in about 35 minutes although if you want to ensure they remain firm, you can add oil to the cooking water and cook them for a shorter period, about 20 minutes. Cheap, nutritious and versatile, they are far and away my favourite lentil.

I wanted a salad at the weekend to go with grilled sausages and decided lentil was the way to go. Because it was so hot I wanted it to be both delicate and substantial - a little in the way turkish dishes can be. I had found a recipe online through chowhound.com but when I looked a little more closely it involved using raw coriander powder in the dressing as well as dried oregano and I wasn't convinced it wouldn't end up a bit gritty in texture, a touch nasty in the mouth. So I made it like this instead.

Lentil Salad

2 tablespoons lemon juice
7 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup brown lentils
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 spring onions, white and green parts, chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

Whisk 4 tablespoons of olive oil with the lemon juice and seasonings to make the dressing.

Pick over and wash lentils in several changes of water until water runs clear. Heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy based pan. Sauté the garlic in the oil with the ground coriander and paprika for a minute then add the washed lentils and stir to coat the lentils with the spiced oil. Add the bay leaf and water to cover by about a centimetre. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until the lentils are nearly cooked. Add additional water if necessary to keep the lentils from sticking. Add salt and taste for seasoning and cook for another five minutes or so till the lentils are tender.

Drain any remaining liquid from the lentils, remove the bay leaf, and allow the lentils to come to room temperature.

While the lentils cook chop all the vegetables and fresh herbs.

In a large bowl combine the lentils, vegetables and herbs with the dressing and toss lightly. Check the seasoning and serve.

I really was amazed at how well this worked - the salad vegetables added lightness and a variety of textures and the herbs made it positively sing while the lentils added body and were fabulously garlicky. Also, as an added bonus, really good next day in lunchboxes.

3 comments:

Serena said...

I have tagged you for a meme, I hope you join in.

air-o-convect said...

Great idea!!

bron said...

Do try it - it's great.