Lentil salad has become a regular part of our lunches, and I probably make it monthly. It is super healthy and high in protein. You can improvise with this to make this your own by making choices about the kind of vegetables, nuts, cheese, even the oil in the vinaigrette. Don't be scared off by the length of the recipe. It isn't difficult.
Ingredients for the....
- 1 1/2 cups French indigo lentils (de puy)*
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- Sprig of fresh thyme, if available
- 1/2 t. salt
- 2-3 cups of diced vegetables, cut into a small dice (around 1/2 inch)
- Firm vegetables work best like beets, butternut squash, carrots and parsnips, or any combination of these.
- 1-2 T. Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1 t. dijon mustard
- 1/4 c. walnut or olive oil, or a combination of the two
- 2 T. red wine or sherry vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Feta or chèvre*
- Toasted chopped walnuts, pecans or shelled pistachios
- Chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley*
Instructions for the....
- Rinse lentils in a strainer or colander under cold water, making sure there aren't any little stones mixed in.
- Place in a 2-3 quart saucepan, add bay leaf, thyme if using, and broth. You can use water in a pinch if you have no stock on hand.* Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Be careful not to overcook them! Check after around 15 minutes to make sure there's enough liquid. Add water if necessary.
- When lentils are done, drain them in a colander or strainer, and throw away the thyme and bay leaf.
- Preheat oven to 425ºF.
- Toss vegetables with olive oil and place on a cookie sheet with sides. Add salt and pepper.
- Roast for 25-30 minutes, until tender, turning once half-way through the cooking. Set aside to cool.
- Using a mortar and pestle, smash the peeled garlic clove with the salt, which mellows the garlic. Pulverize it into a paste. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, finely chop the garlic.
- Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a jar or bowl. I like using jars because you can shake them like crazy. Otherwise, whisk the ingredients together well.
- Pour dressing over the lentils. You can do this while the lentils are either warm or cold. Gently mix well.
- Add roasted vegetables and gently mix together. Taste for salt and pepper. If using feta on top, you may want to leave it a little less salty, as feta adds saltiness.
- Top with toasted nuts and/or cheese. If you aren't serving the salad to a crowd, you may want to add the nuts when you eat the salad, as they will stay crisper that way. I toast up a bunch at once in the toaster oven or in a small frying pan, then keep them in a storage container. Nuts are expensive and burn very easily, so keep an eye on them while toasting.
This salad keeps well in the refrigerator for around 5 days.
LENTILS: It is very important that you use on French indigo lentils or black lentils in this salad. Green and brown lentils will lose their shape and your salad will look like something your cat regurgitated. French indigo, also called de puy, lentils are my favorite. They are pretty and taste great. If you can't find them in your local supermarket, try the natural food shop or a gourmet grocery. Whole Foods carries them in their bulk food area. You can also order them online.
FETA AND CHÈVRE: Apologies in advance to my Greek friends, but the best feta I've found is Pastures of Eden Israeli feta, which you can buy at Trader Joe's. Love this stuff! They also carry a great chèvre at a very reasonable price. It is made by Laura Chenel and sold under the Trader Joe's label. Although you've probably noticed that I'm a huge Trader Joe's fan, I have no financial interest in the company. See photos below of these products.
PARSLEY: That pretty curly stuff is good only as a garnish. It's practically flavorless. Always use Italian flat leaf parsley in your cooking.
IF USING WATER to cook the lentils, add about 1/2 t. of salt after cooking for 15 minutes.