I don’t have exciting news yet. Well, unless you count a cavity-free dental appointment, which was a relief after intensive cookbook recipe testing over the past year. That’s probably not very exciting to you, huh?
All I have for you is this lentil salad, which is beyond delicious. In fact, I was tempted to make it a last-minute cookbook addition instead, but decided you should get it right away. It features black beluga lentils, which are my favorite lentils for salads. They’re called beluga lentils because they resemble caviar. I like them because they cook in about 25 minutes and retain their shape nicely.
As humble and inexpensive as they are, lentils are true super foods. They’re loaded with protein, fiber, iron, and more goodness. Their flavor is super earthy, so they go well with other strong, zippy flavors, like the bold red wine vinaigrette I used here. I added chopped spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and herbs to round out the salad.
I usually stock up on black beluga lentils at Whole Foods and bulk bins, so I hope you can find them. If not, French green (le Puy) lentils will work, too. Don’t forget to skip the “pick over lentils for debris” step—I have found little bitty rocks in there that you wouldn’t want to bite into!
You all know I’m a big fan of beans, lentils and peas (which are collectively called pulses), and I’m glad to be developing pulse recipes during the United Nation’s International Year of Pulses.
This simple lentil salad is loaded with Greek flavors and health benefits. You can prepare all of the ingredients while the lentils cook. This salad makes great leftovers—just store the spinach separately from the rest so it doesn’t completely wilt. Recipe yields 4 mid-sized servings.
- 1 cup black beluga lentils (dry/uncooked)
- 3 cups water
- 3 lightly packed cups of chopped baby spinach
- ½ medium red onion, chopped
- ⅓ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed
- ⅓ cup pitted and quartered Kalamata olives
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley
- Optional garnish: crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Scant ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (if using regular table salt, start with ¼ teaspoon and add more to taste)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- To cook the lentils: First, pick through the lentils and remove any debris (like tiny rocks). Pour the lentils into a fine-mesh colander and rinse under running water, then dump the lentils into a medium saucepan. Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 25 to 35 minutes. Then, drain the lentils and return them to the pot to cool for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium serving bowl, combine the spinach, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and basil. Set aside.
- To prepare the dressing, combine all of the ingredients and whisk until thoroughly blended.
- Once the lentils have cooled for about 5 minutes, add them to the serving bowl. Pour all of the dressing over the salad and toss until blended. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve in individual bowls with a sprinkle of feta cheese on top, if desired.