Saturday, July 18, 2020

Lentil Salad For Hot Weather

Mid-July is a good time to beef up the recipe list for warm weather. Although we are having morning fog now, so no heat wave, I know that hot weather will be coming in the weeks and months to come.

A really great dish to have on hand is lentil salad. It's great at room temperature by itself, or layered over salad greens and tomatoes as I did yesterday for lunch, or folded into a stuffing for zucchini or bell peppers, along with rice or quinoa and some extra seasonings.

You start by cooking rinsed lentils in water, with the addition of onion, bay leaf, and pepper. Once cooked just until tender, you mix the drained lentils with red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings. I like to add the lentils while they are still warm because I think that helps with them soaking up the dressing. I also like to stir the mixture about every hour for a few hours and then cover the salad and let it sit on the counter overnight. This allows the flavors to meld nicely.

Although I did cook the lentils with a ham hock, you can also make them without it and then it's a vegan dish. The recipe calls for bacon, too, but I skipped it and didn't miss it a bit.

Do try this great summertime dish. It's perfect for a picnic since it doesn't need refrigeration. It supplies protein and lots of fiber and plenty of flavor. Enjoy!

Lentil Salad
based on a recipe by Alton Brown

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
(the above three ingredients can be replaced with 1/2 cup red wine vinegar)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt (kosher salt if you have it)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (freshly ground is best)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 recipe Basic Cooked Lentils (see recipe below)
2 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, cooled, and crumbled (or more, to taste - optional)

Whisk the vinegars, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper, parsley and thyme together in a large mixing bowl. Add the warm lentils and bacon and stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you will be serving this much later, save the bacon in a zip-lock bag and add it 1/2 hour or so before serving. (That way the bacon stays crisp.)

Basic Cooked Lentils
1 pound brown or green lentils, approximately 2 1/2 cups
1 small onion, halved
1 large clove garlic, halved
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound salt pork, optional
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pick over the lentils, rinse and drain. Place the lentils along with the onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pork into a large 6-quart saucepan and cover with water by 2 to 3 inches. Place over high heat and bring just to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid and discard the onion, garlic, bay leaf and salt pork. Stir in black pepper and taste for salt. Serve immediately or use in Lentil Salad.

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