Here’s a salad to take you into the fall from our supremely talented Food Editor, Christine. Enjoy!
We’ve had a kind of unusual summer this year; my husband has been working out of state during the week and coming home on the weekends so instead cooking for both of us daily like I’m used to, I’ve been more focused on cooking during the weekends. (And to be honest, I’ve been kind of hit or miss in cooking for myself during the week.) He’s also been living in an Air BnB during the week with a minimal kitchen so I’ve been trying to cook things that he can take with him to give him some healthy meals during the week so he doesn’t have to rely on eating out or eating sandwiches all the time. And to be honest, I’ve been kind of hit or miss in cooking for myself during the week, so it’s been good to cook a little extra on the weekends to feed both of us during the week. I’ve needed to think about what I’m cooking in a different way: how will this meal taste in a couple of days or after it has been frozen? Will it still be fresh and healthy or wilted and soggy?
This lentil salad is kind of the perfect answer for this scenario: flavorful, easily transportable, a hearty and healthy summer meal. It is also great for picnics or desk lunches because it doesn’t need to be cold and it is a good place to use up those bunches of herbs that you buy for a recipe and then have half the bunch left over (or those herbs you have growing on your windowsill!) And lentils are so good- full of flavor and nutrition. The French puy lentils in this recipe are special- unlike the more common flatter disc shaped lentils, these hold their shape after they cook, kind of like grains of short grain brown rice or quinoa. There is another lentil called the beluga that is black and will also work for this recipe but it tends to be a little more expensive and a little harder to track down.
As with most of the recipes I post, there is a lot of room for improvisation. Don’t have red bell pepper? Just throw in some roasted beets. No feta? Tangy, creamy goat cheese will work. Just try to keep everything cut up to the same scale and try to keep a balance of textures and flavors.
French Green Lentil Salad
2 cups cooked French Puy lentils*
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium stalk celery, diced
1 small cucumber, diced
1 medium tomato, or 7-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ red onion, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
2 cups arugula or 1 cup radicchio, chopped
1 medium cooked turnip, peeled and diced
1 roasted and peeled beet diced
2 ounces feta, crumbled
Optional: chopped fresh herbs like parsley, dill, oregano.
Toss all ingredients except feta together in a large bowl. Just prior to serving, dress with vinaigrette and toss again. Top with crumbled feta cheese and serve. The salad will keep for several days in the refrigerator without the dressing.
¼ cup sherry vinegar (or wine vinegar if you don’t have sherry)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon herb du Provence blend
1 teaspoon minced shallot
salt and black pepper
½ to 2/3 cup olive oil
Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a small bowl or jar. Blend well and taste to adjust seasoning. Add ½ cup olive oil and either whisk or shake the mixture until it emulsifies and is creamy. Taste and add more olive oil if you prefer a less tangy dressing.
*To cook lentils:
Rinse and drain lentils. Cook 1 part lentils to 4 parts water (1 cup lentils will make about 3 cups of lentils) with a bay leaf for about 20 minutes. Test for doneness; lentils should be firm but not crunchy. Drain and lightly salt. Discard bay leaf