Never does a cold salad sound so good as on a sticky, hot, lethargic day.
That's when there's nothing finer than slumping over to the fridge and finding a tasty stash tucked away. Yes, some generous former version of yourself (perhaps that productive weekend you?) had the foresight to prepare and place this delight in the fridge for your current lazy enjoyment. Thanks, past-tense self. You rule.
Using the spicy horseradish mustard whipped up in last week's post, it's quick (and tasty) work for you (or some former version of you) to make a one of this household's summertime favorites... the French Lentil Salad.
This is a terrific salad to have around because it's full of protein, it's easy to make vegetarian or meatetarian, it's easy to make in advance (and travels well to picnics), it doesn't take long to cook and it keeps in the fridge for several days, so you can make a large batch on a Sunday and eat it for your weekday lunches and lazy midweek moments.
French Lentil Salad with marinated artichokes
The accommodating French Lentil Salad also welcomes a variety of ingredients. This week, we happened to have baby leeks in the CSA box, so sliced baby leeks replaced the scallions I usually use.
If I have a can of marinated artichokes around... in they go. A few extra olives in the fridge? Slice 'em up. Sun-dried tomatoes? Delightful. J really loves this salad with oil-packed tuna. (At $10 a jar, it's a splurge, but we really love the Ortiz Bonito del Norte. Mmm...)
French Lentil Salad with Serrano ham
Basic French Lentil Salad (Makes about five cups)
9 oz dried green lentils
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
Water, to cover
1. In a large pot, soak the lentils, covered in salt water, for 1 hour.
2. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer until tender, but not overcooked, about 15 minutes.
3. Drain, spread on a sheet tray to cool, and combine with the salad ingredients.
1/4 cup spicy mustard (or DIY mustard)
3 Tbsp wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch sugar (optional)
1. Mix the mustard and vinegar.
2. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth.
3. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, to taste.
1. Mix the cooled lentils in a large bowl with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
2. Add in your choice of additions. Use whatever you have. I usually mix in:
1/2 to 1 cup chopped herbs (parsley, mint, cilantro or a combination thereof)
2-3 slices Serrano or Proscuitto ham, diced
1/4 to 1/2 cup dried currants, softened in hot water for 20 minutes
2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
While French Lentils aren't the cheapest legume on the shelf, I can still pick up about 18 oz for less than three bucks, so a basic version of this recipe can be made for as little as 80 cents a cup (the olive oil, lentils and any dressy bits you add in being the expensive ingredients).
Not a bad price for such a delightful source of protein and fiber.