Sometimes the weather plays tricks on us and we just have to roll with it. Last week here in the northeast we were experiencing record high summer-like temperatures. But this week it's back to the unpredictable cold of early spring. So until it actually starts feeling like spring again I'm resorting to eating warm and comforting foods. And legumes are what I turn to in my time of need.
I love a black bean stew, a white bean soup, or a good chili with kidney beans. I also just adore lentils, but instead of the usual lentil soup I'm thinking lentil salad. A warm lentil salad makes a wonderful and filling dish. It's great as a side dish to meats, but it can also be a good stand-in for protein when you're not feeling like eating meat. Lentils are one of the most versatile legumes.
This salad is as simple as it gets. It's basically cooked lentils combined with sautéed vegetables, olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. It's great for mixing into green salads for a healthy lunch or served with roasted vegetables for a pleasing dinner. But whatever you do, don't use canned lentils, which are too mushy for this lentil salad.
Warm Lentil Salad
1-1/2 cups French green lentils
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Add lentils to a pot with about 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Simmer lentils on low until tender but slightly al dente, about 25 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add shallot and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots and celery and continue to sauté until vegetables are very soft, about 10 minutes. Add herbes de Provence and toast 1 minute. Stir in lentils and rewarm, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley. Drizzle with olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Check seasoning and add more oil, vinegar, or salt if needed. Yield: 6 servings.