“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
Greetings fine blogging friends!
I’m back home after a brief business trip to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (a fancy way of saying Calgary).
I have returned home to a few new blooms in the garden and dare I say….just a tiny bit of a tan on my face?!! Okay, that might be stretching it a (just a little) but I did spend a couple of days in the warm Prairie sun – it was pretty sweet
It’s always extra-super-amazing to be back home, no matter how long I leave for.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
In keeping with my last post (and a few before that I think!), here is one of my favorite go-to cold protein salad recipes. I hesitate to call it a recipe, as it’s more just a food I love, and a food I fall back on time and time again.
More lentils! But not just any old lentils.
I am talking about French lentils, or Puy lentils as they are also called (they originally came from Puy, France). Those of you who read this blog regularly might just say I have been training for France my entire adult life – which is about as long as I’ve been enjoying these deliciously sophisticated legumes!!
“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
― John Lennon
It could be hard to find these in some parts of the world, and I’ve always found them successfully in health food or organic grocery stores. A suitable substitute would be ‘Beluga’ lentils, also black and a little plumper.
I have read that French lentils take longer to cook than other lentils, which I have never found to be the case – it could be because I steam them, instead of boiling them (which for me always turns this kind to mush).
Does anyone else do this too?
I can’t tell you where I learned this from, or how I learned it, because I honestly don’t remember – but what I can tell you is it makes them ridiculously good!
Let’s get to this fierce salad, shall we? Yes!
“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then. ”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Less boiling in hot water means more in-tact nutrition in your final product. Less canned beans and lentils means more texture, and less waste, recycling, and cost. Less heavy & starchy beans means a lighter feeling in your tummy, and less heavy tummies means more light smiles and happy times – and (maybe) (just a little) less gas. Good, right?
More high fiber legumes means more roughage in your system. More rich protein and satisfaction means you need to eat less to get full. More yummy textures and flavors mean more variety and substance. More taste and versatility means you can serve these to anyone – even if they aren’t lentil lovers (yet!).
Fierce French Lentil Salad:
- (1) cup French lentils or Puy lentils (can sub Beluga lentils)
- (1) pint grape tomatoes, roasted (or 1/2 cup thinly sliced or chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil)
- (1/2) cup green onions
- (3) tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- (2) tbsp red wine vinegar
- (1) tsp salt (or to taste)
- (1/2) cup roasted almond slivers or blanched sliced almonds
- (1/2) cup cubes of feta cheese (optional)
- fresh black pepper
The trick here is to soak the lentils at least 12 hours. I usually put up a bowl to soak over night and cook them in the morning or the following evening.
Combine the lentils with lots of cold water and soak. When ready to cook, drain the lentils and rinse in a colander with plenty of cold water. Put the lentils into a vegetable steamer with enough water to last long enough to boil 25-30 minutes. Bring to a boil, once the steam water is boiling, turn the heat to medium-high and cook, covered for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. You can test them by tasting or squashing one between your fingers – it should crush easily, but you don’t want it to be mush either.
Once the lentils are done (soft but firm), transfer them to a bowl to cool. After about 5 minutes, add the olive oil and salt (you can also add the vinegar at this stage) to the still warm/hot lentils – this allows the oil and salt to soak into each lentil’s individual little soul, infusing it with yummy depth and fierce flavor!
From here, you can store the lentils in the fridge until you want to use them. Or, proceed with the following steps!
If you are using roasted grape tomatoes, rinse the tomatoes in water and drain. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the tomatoes in a tbsp of olive oil or so and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place on a flat oiled sheet, and roast the tomatoes until wrinkly – anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. They should be black a little on the bottom. Remove and cool on the pan before transferring to a bowl.
This step can be done well in advance – I often buy ‘cast-offs’ from the produce section of wrinkly tomatoes that are too old to eat fresh. They are usually dirt cheap and I roast them and keep them in the fridge. Delicious on sandwiches or on top of a salad or roasted veggies – even on pasta with capers!
Roast the nuts by placing them dry on a flat cookie sheet in the oven. Roast at 350 degrees for about 3-4 minutes, or until fragrant and turning brown.
Roasted almonds are the family favorite and we have a bowl of them in the kitchen pretty much all the time. The kids love them, the husband loves them, guests love them. I often toast up a few cups and use them at dinner.
Leftovers are brilliant on breakfast cereals or Mediterranean yoghurt in the morning with hemp hearts & maple syrup
To create the salad, combine the oiled & salted cooked (and cooled) lentils in a bowl with the nuts, green onions, and optional feta. If you are using sun-dried tomatoes, add them when you mix as well. For the roasted tomatoes, add these to the top of the mixture in the serving bowl(s) just before serving.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
This dish (or a version of this dish) is a fabulous picnic salad or addition to a summer potluck. Served with greens, fresh baguette or crackers, and a glass of French wine, the only thing better would be, well, being in France!
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
― George Bernard Shaw
Getting out there into the big big world helps us to appreciate coming home (just a little) more, and I always come home (just a little) more thankful for all the relationships I am so lucky to be a participant in.
Whether it is the friendships and connections forged on the road or the smiles on the kids faces when you walk in the door (yes – even after one night away – lucky me!), interactions with others are always an extraordinarily special gift.
It’s a good life, indeed. Isn’t it?
Thanks to all of you who continue to read and support this (little) blog – your comments always make my day, no matter where I am!
“It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”
― Albert Einstein
- What’s your favorite potluck summer salad?
- Have you a favorite lentil variety or recipe to share with us?
I can’t wait to see what we are all bringing to the table, and a giant thanks to Ann at AUV for bringing it all together and for all the inspiration!
Yours in Less,