Lentil Salad

For dinner last night I decided to make a lentil salad, which proved to turn out quite delicious.  I really like lentils but often struggle to think of what to make with them outside of a lentil soup (though lentil soup is really really good by the way).  A lentil salad proved for a tasty alternative.  here is what I did.

1) Cook the lentils. 

I chose to use French Green or Puy lentils both because number of recipes I browsed through recommended them and also because personal experience with cooking various lentils has taught me the French Green tend to retain their shape and a good firmness best (red lentils on the other hand tend to turn to complete mush).  To cook the lentils I put a cup and a half in a sauce pan and added just enough cold water to barely cover the lentils.  With the lentils I added some chopped garlic clove and shalots, a bit of salt and pepper, a bay leaf, half a sprig of rosemary, and few fennel seeds.  I brought the water to a boil and then lowered the heat to a steady simmer.  Throughout the cooking I occasionally added a little more water to make sure the lentils did not absorb it all.  My aim (and success) was not to over cook the lentils but instead to get them to a palatable firmness.  All and all the cooking of the lentils took just over about half an hour (this is one of my favorite thing about lentils.  As far as legumes go they cook very fast and don’t require any soaking prior to the cooking).

2) Get other salad ingredients ready

While the lentils were cooking I cut up or got ready other ingredients I wanted in the salad.  These included:

  • Half a red onion
  • 1 bell pepper (I used green because I had it on hand, in the future I think I might like the additional sweetness of a red or yellow one better though)
  • 2 carrots (chopped into cross sections about half a centimeter thick)
  • 2 celery sticks
  • a decent handful of fresh cilantro (very finely chopped up to get the flavor going and to evenly distribute it.  If you are like some people I know you may want to use less cilantro considering how strong the flavor can be.  I however love cilantro and never really mind its intensity).
  • A can of chickpeas (rinsed well to get rid of the nasty canned juices.  I think I may begin cooking my own chickpeas to have on hand, because I really do not care too much for the canned ones.  According to Mark Bittman it is legit to cook and freeze beans including chickpeas in large batches.  I use chick peas very often so this might be worth the spent time).

3) Dressing!

After the lentils were done cooking and drained of any excess liquid I mixed them in a big bowl with all the other ingredients listed above.  The salad was almost done, but it needed a dressing for a final flavoring.  The dressing I made contained the following:

  • about half a cup of vegetable oil (I would have used olive oil but I was just about out of it).
  • about a tablespoon and a half of Balsamic vinegar (I suppose you could use red wine vinegar too.  I personally am just very fond of the flavor of balsamic vinegar).
  • about two tablespoons of horseradish mustard (really you could use any kind of brown mustard you want here. I just happened to have horseradish mustard and I like the spiciness of the stuff so it worked out great).
  • about a teaspoon of maple syrup (for a slight sweetness of course!  If you don’t have maple syrup I’d recommend either a bit of honey or some brown sugar).
  • about a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh ginger (if you don’t have fresh on hand then I suppose you could use powdered ginger but honestly I just recommend that people who like cooking get in the habit of keeping fresh ginger on hand.  Recently fresh ginger has been one of my favorite ingredients to use in cooking).
  • Salt and pepper and a bit of dried oregano

I whisked all these ingredients together well and then poured the dressing over the lentils and vegetable and stirred the whole thing up well to evenly coat everything.  I then let the salad sit, covered, on the cold porch for about twenty minutes to half an hour to chill and settle a little bit.

It came out great.  The lentils were the perfect firmness and the dressing, with the ginger and horseradish mustard, added a fantastic bit of spice, not too strong but present nevertheless.  Along with the salad, Dan, Holly and I ate some roasted sweet potatoes and beets that Holly made.  Also some brie cheese and Black Walnut and Apple bread previously provided by Eliza.  It was a really great meal and provided a new way of preparing lentils that I will definitely use again in the future.

~ by Nathaniel on December 31, 2009.

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