A wonderfully earthy salad that is great for a picnic or with BBQd meats, that improves with standing and that is better served at room temperature rather than chilled. I am posting this Middle Eastern-style salad for the 2005 Zaar World Tour. I found it in English chef Brian Glover's fabulous book 'The Onion Cookbook': a real culinary haven for lovers of onions, garlic, leeks, spring onions, shallots and chives.
- 1 cup puy lentils
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 stick celery
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onions or 3 -4 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted, crushed
- 400 g Baby Spinach
- salt, to taste
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, plus a few extra sprigs
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 5 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1⁄2 teaspoon lemon rind, finely grated
- Rinse the lentils and place them in a large saucepan and add plenty of water to cover; tie the bay leaf, celery and thyme into a bundle and add to the pan, then bring to the boil; reduce the heat so that the water boils steadily; cook the lentils for 30-40 minutes or until they are just tender. DO NOT ADD SALT at this stage, as it toughens the lentils.
- Meanwhile, to make the dessing, mix the oil, mustard, 3 teaspoons vinegar, garlic and lemon rind, and season to taste with pepper and salt.
- Thoroughly drain the lentils and transfer them to a bowl, add most of the dressing and toss until all the ingredients are well-combined, then set aside, stirring occasionally.
- Heat the oil in a deep pan and cook the onions or shallots over a low heat for 4-5 minutes, until they are beginning to soften. Add the cumin and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the spinach and season to taste, cover and cook for 2 minutes; stir, then cook again briefly until wilted.
- Stir the spinach into the lentils and leave the salad to cool. Bring back to room temperature if necessary. Stir in the remaining dressing and chopped parsley, adjust the seasoning, adding extra wine vinegar if necessary.
- Transfer the salad to a serving platter and scatter over some parsley sprigs.
- Chef's Note: Puy lentils are named after a town in France. They are considered to have the best and most distinctive flavour and they keep both their shape and colour well when cooked, making them ideal for salads.
I'd like to give this a 3 1/2 stars - nice, and I'll definitely make it again. I used red onion as it was all I had, and in the future I'll either use brown onion or only very briefly cook the red. I'll use less olive oil in the dressing, and probably add some lemon juice. I used white wine vinegar instead of red and was very happy with this. I overcooked the lentils this time round, so next time will make sure they're out by 30 mins. Overall, a tasty dish. It made 3 smallish serves (4 as a side / lunch, 2 as a large meal).
I served this warm with morrocan chicken and morrocan carrot salad. I loved it and so did the kids.