CtBF – lentil salad (and a hummus make-up)

Seems that I was on the same cadence as a few others. Making (or posting anyway) both of these recipes this week. 

I have often written about how much I learned to love lentils on this blog. Apparently my dog does too because the last time I made them, I made a larger batch and froze some. Who knew my puppy would steal the bag thawing on the countertop? ūüė°. I’m the only human that lives in the household who shares our affinity however, so I don’t make them quite as often. This was a GREAT reminder about how I need to change that. 

Super simple, and just a tiny bit different than the other recipe I use for lentils – this is exactly a recipe I could make at any time because I almost always have everything on hand. 

The cooked lentils with their vegetables get tossed with a mustardy vinaigrette and allowed to cool. Then toasted walnuts and fresh parsley are added. That’s it!! And it is delicious!! In fact, I think it would be a great thing to make a small batch each week and add it to, or as a side dish for, anything. This would be endlessly adaptable with any veggies on hand, or with different herbs (almost went with basil – a great combo). So! A hit! Which leads me to the hummus. I’ve made it before (for the dukka), but had not done the whole “peal the skins off of the chickpeas” thing. This time I did, after reading about what a difference it made. 

Full disclosure, I used canned. I’ve come to my fondness of chickpeas late (though I have a chickpea tomato salad that has to be made each summer). So, I’m not cooking them from dry. Also, I was swept up in the Cuisinart blade debacle and still have no food processor. The mini one doesn’t cut it. I still have an old-school blender, so after trying to make it smooth with less than success, I put it in the blender. Made all the difference in the world! Silky!!!

My other trick is using Trader Joe’s tahini. It’s complete different than other tahinis. Different texture. Different color. Yummy. 

Anyway, this hummus got the full treatment: dukka, extra virgin olive oil, toasted pepitas and ground sumac. The full Monty. The whole enchilada. The whole nine yards. You probably get the idea. 

This ended up being perfect for an afternoon visit with a good friend who eats vegan. Of course, always my favorite to serve “regular” foods that fit the bill. 
So, a couple of terrific recipes for an afternoon visit with friends. And a great reminder in general. 

ffwd – french lentils – a basic recipe

French lentils have to be one of the handful of my very favorite recipes in Around My French Table. And one from which¬†I learned the most. I had never been a fan of lentils. I like beans of most varieties, and love split pea soup – but lentils? Then the revelation of these wonderful small greenish-black lentils that Dorie introduced us to. This, along with Marie Helene’s Apple Cake, Hachis Parmentier, My Go-To Beef Daube, and the Roasted Salmon¬†that is served with lentils¬†are a few recipes that I’ve made several times. There are more, but these are a few of the ones that have really stayed with me.

100_3607

This is simple enough – the lentils are given a quick pre-boil and rinsed, just to make sure the flavors are clean. Then they are added with a number of vegetables and spices and set to simmer. I used the green tops of a celery root that I was going to roast to go with, carrot, bay leaf, garlic and a clove-studded small onion.

100_3609100_3610

This all gets simmered together along with some vegetable (or other) stock for about a half an hour total. Dorie suggests draining them, and reserving the water if they are going to be refrigerated (for re-heating). This would be a particularly good idea if you were using these for a lentil salad. You may also remove the vegetables, finely chop them and add them back in, or discard. I’ve done both – with good results. You may also add a splash of cognac, and even a bit of chopped shallot. Add depending on how you are using yours.

100_3618

While the lentils were simmering, I made some roasted vegetables. I had some cherry tomatoes that needed to be used, so I stirred them together with a bit of garlic, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Anyone who is familiar with the other cooking group in which I participate (Cottage Cooking Club), might recognize these. And I’ve found that roasted celery root goes well with lentils – so I roasted a few along with some red onions. Other things I like to use are eggplant, multi-colored peppers, carrots, sweet potato and zucchini.

100_3613

Along with some home-made pesto, this turns into one of my favorite meals. It can be served hot, or room temperature (my typical), and is a perfect desk lunch at work – easily assembled to go, but can sit at your desk until it’s time to enjoy. I had something like this when I was in Texas¬†a couple of years ago, and have been making it ever since. Infinitely variable, based on what’s fresh and available, and quite healthy too.

100_3621

ffwd – lentil, lemon and tuna salad

I have to say that, thanks to Dorie, I’m now just a little addicted to French lentils. I feel quite virtuous, because they are so good for you too – a “super food” even. So while this is the first time I’ve made this exact recipe, it’s not actually the very first attempt at something like it. I’m still not sure that I really love the combination, but I’m guessing that like the lentils themselves, this will grow on me.

We’ve made these lentils before, so it’s really no different. We¬†will,¬†however, get to use preserved lemons for this recipe! I ended up buying a jar of chopped preserved meyer lemon. I couldn’t imagine that some other variety would be better – though I¬†am a preserved lemon novice, so I could be wrong.

Once the lentils are cooked and drained (I didn’t use the optional cognac), the warm lentils are stirred together with a quick¬†vinaigrette that includes some grainy mustard, vinegar and olive oil. The dressing also includes a black olive tapenade – I was given a jar of amazing-looking stuff, so couldn’t resist using it here (and now that it’s open, I guess I have to finish it!). That’s initially tossed with the lentils, then a sliced green onion and some preserved lemon are added (I made a half-recipe).

The unfortunate thing about the French lentils (or lentils du Puy), is that while they are tasty, they are not particularly pretty. So the final presentation, once the tuna is added and the whole salad is seasoned with salt and pepper, isn’t all that beautiful. I’m afraid, this is destined to be lunch at work, and not a beautifully composed one. I’m sure others will take Dorie’s suggestion and serve this with a tomato and pepper salad, which would surely make this a bit prettier on a plate. But for me, I’ll have to be content with a homely, virtuous salad that’s delicious. It seems that there should be a lesson there…