Saturday, November 15, 2014

French lentil salad

French lentil salad rolled up in kale leaves

I first tasted this gorgeous lentil salad combo at a lovely French cafe in Concord, MA called La Provence. It was love at first bite. It's bathed in a tangy classic French, dijon style vinaigrette, and speckled with colorful little dabs of diced tomatoes, parsley and crunchy purple onions. Oh, and there's cubed feta cheese. Trés, délicieux, oui? Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I have attempted to recreate this lentil salad several times, and I think I finally have it. The key is in the chef's vinaigrette of course, which I could go and buy at the cafe, but to me that's cheating. So here is my version of La Provence's lentil salad...

French lentil salad

Place 1 ½ cups du Puy (or any kind of) French lentils in pot along with 1 bay leaf, 1 clove garlic and ¼ onion. Add in 3-4 cups water, and some salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Do not overcook—mushy lentils are yucky, and you want these lentils to have a little bite to them. Strain lentils and let cool. Meanwhile, make your vinaigrette.

½ clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
lemon juice
Salt and pepper

In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, and mustard. Then whisk in the oil, adding it in slowly. The oils and vinegar should combine together (emulsify) and thicken. Taste, and add some lemon if the dressing isn’t zesty enough. Season with salt and pepper. Alternatively, you mix first ingredients in a small jar with a lid, add the olive oil, and shake like mad until it's emulsified. Et voila!

Now dice around ¼ cup each of purple onions, plum tomatoes (outside parts only), feta cheese, and flat leafed parsley. In a bowl mix your cool lentils, the diced veggies and feta cheese, and around 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Taste. It's good, isn't it?

The lentil salad keeps for around 2 days in the fridge and is great for hot summer days or any time of year. The salad it délicieux on its own, or sometimes I place a tablespoon or so inside a kale leaf and roll it up for a little bundle of yum. 

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with Moroccan spices, pickled onions and cauliflower

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