It’s been a busy, eventful and challenging couple of weeks here in the construction site in the woods. Our kitchen renovation continues. The painter was scheduled, so I had to hurry and do my job: puttying and finishing all the wood work. With lots of beams, door and window frames, shelves, and a new fireplace mantle, I had little time for making pots or cooking while I was wood working.
Then my 80 year old dad went into the hospital for knee replacement surgery. He’s since been transferred to rehab and is doing well. It is a difficult recovery. I’ve been spending every free minute with my folks for the last week and a half and have had time for little else. But this morning, I got up early to make a lentil salad to share with my friend whose husband is still in the hospital. I’m hoping that next week, I’ll have good news to report about the progress of both patients!
I love lentils any time of year. Salads including perfectly cooked lentils are especially lovely in summer. They are great to make ahead, a substantial source of meatless protein, and super versatile. I like this particular salad as a bed for roasted or grilled salmon or shrimp. It is a great accompaniment to simple grilled meats, poultry or sausage. And it makes a wonderful lunch or light supper on a big pile of mixed greens.
The brine idea came from Cook’s Illustrated. Brining greatly enhances the texture and flavor of the lentils. If you want to skip that step, simply cook the lentils an extra 10 minutes or so; the salad will still be delicious.
Summer Lentil Salad
I like to brine the lentils overnight and make this salad in the morning. Alternatively, you could brine all day and cook in the evening.
2 cups French green lentils (puy)
3 tbs. fine sea salt
1 stalk green garlic (cleaned) or 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 oz Roquefort
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds
1 carrot, finely diced
1 small cucumber, finely diced
2 tbs. good balsamic vinegar
2 tbs. good XV olive oil
1 handful mixed herbs (optional), torn or cut into small pieces*
salt and pepper, to taste
*I used arugula, chives, basil and tarragon. Other great choices would be thyme, mint, cilantro, savory, marjoram, dill or oregano.
Wash and pick over the lentils and cover with water by a good inch. Add sea salt, mix, and let the lentils brine overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse. Put the lentils in a heavy pot, cover with water again, add the garlic, and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down the burner and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the lentil just become tender. Watch carefully, if they overcook the texture suffers.
Drain the cooked lentils well; let them cool for 15 minutes or so. Add the remaining ingredients and combine. This is delicious served right away. Or chill and serve cold or at room temp.