This recipe comes to me by way of "Olive Trees and Honey" by Gil Marks, a beautiful vegetarian world-view cookbook. See the bottom of the recipe, in the last few numbered steps, for the various traditions. The first version is Sephardic, a Jewish/Spanish variation, and is called "Salata de Lentejas."
- 1 lb about 2 1/4 cups brown lentils or 1 lb green lentil, picked over and rinsed
- 8 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
For the dressing
- 1⁄3 cup fresh lemon juice or 1⁄3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1⁄3 cup fresh parsley or 1⁄3 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 -2 garlic clove, minced (optional)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
- 2⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad
- 1 red onions, chopped or 4 -6 scallions, sliced
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- Combine the lentils, water and bay leaf in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until tender, 20-30 minutes.
- While lentils cook, make the dressing: mix all ingredients except oil. Slowly add the oil while constantly whisking, to create an emulsion.
- Drain lentils, and while warm transfer lentils to a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over lentils, and toss gently to coat.
- Just prior to serving, add onion and tomato.
- Ethiopian Variation (Yemiser Selatta): Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 chopped red or yellow onions and 2-4 seeded and minced hot chile peppers, and saute until softened. Add to the salad.
- Greek Variation (Salata Faki): Add 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese, 1/3 cup chopped green olives, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh spearmint.
- Yemenite Variation (Salata Adas): Add 1 cup tahini and increase the lemon juice to 1 cup and the parsley to 2 cups. Using a large mortar and pestle, potato masher, or a food processor, mash the combined salad into a paste.