There was a time in my life when I hated lentils.
I blame it on those large green ones, you know, the ones that are super mealy and a bit dry. Mum used to cook these for dinner.
Stupid mushy dry lentils.
This could also be the reason why many of you aren’t too fond of them either. But french lentils are different. They are little, they retain their shape, and they are not at all dry. Or mushy. They are perfect. And they are probably the reason why I love lentils so much now.
This is the kind of dish I have been making for years and years. One of those ones I don’t have to think too much about because I have made it so many times, in some form or other. It is an excellent base recipe, add in your favourite cooked grain and you’ve transformed this side dish into a complete meal. I never tire of it, probably because it is so versatile. It is also one of those ones which improves with age. Earlier in the week I made a gigantic batch, to serve as a side to some grilled sausages.
I had it the following day for lunch with some sliced (and pan fried) left over sausages.
Today I stirred through some whole wheat couscous and topped it with a soft boiled egg. Yum.
Believe it or not there is still some left in the fridge too.
I always feel like giving myself a little pat on the back when I look in the fridge, starving, and I have been clever enough to think ahead. I have been known to wait until I am ravenously hungry before I start making lunch or dinner, and end up eating everything I can get my hands on. Lately I have had much more foresight – I am enjoying having more organisation in my life!
Like most of my recipes, the ingredients here are just a guide. If you don’t have something from the list, just leave it out. If you happen to have some carrots, or radish, or anything else for that matter, dice them up and add them too! It is a very forgiving and very flexible recipe. What you must remember however, is not to skimp on the salt. Salt will bring all the flavours to life! Also, I have on many occasion, used a tin of lentils when pressed for time. They worked a treat.
Summertime Lentil Salad
– 1/2 cup du puy lentils, rinsed
– 2-3 sticks of celery, the innermost ones are the best
– 1/2 red capsicum
– 1 lebanese cucumber
– handful of parsley leaves
– 1/4 red onion
– 1 – 2 ripe tomatoes
– 1 red chilli (optional)
– handful of shaved parmesan
– 2 Tbsp Djion mustard
– 3 Tbsp sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar would be a good substitute)
– 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1/2 tsp paprika
– 1/2 tsp salt
Start by cooking the lentils. Place them in a pan with 4 times the amount of cold water and pop on high heat. Once it comes to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until cooked. Drain and rinse under cold water.
While the lentils are cooking you can prep all your veg.
Finely slice the celery, finely dice the cucumber, capsicum, onion and chilli, and chop the parsley.
Slice the tomato into wedges. Put them all aside in a large bowl. Grind some sea salt over the top.
Make the dressing by placing all the dressing ingredients into a screw top jar and shaking until emulsified.
Add the drained lentils to the bowl, pour over the dressing add toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Add the shaved parmesan and gently toss again.
Let sit for at least half an hour, to let the flavours mingle. It is even better the next day.