It is a Monday in October, it is cold and damp outside, but inside my house it is warm and cosy. I don’t feel in the mood for wintry, lovely sticktoyourribs food today. I want something light, herby, easy on the tongue and the stomach.
I want lentils.
What? I hear you say. But lentils are wintry, lovely sticktoyourribs food!
Look.. you had them in soup before..
and you love them cooked, with carrots and celery and stuff. With sausages.
I want salad! I want fresh lovely light flavoursome lentil salad!
I have a deep love of puy lentils in salad. I first had them in Spain back in the 1980s, staying at a friend’s, she made a salad with the lovely glass jarred beans and lentils you can buy there. You could buy them here too, but at exorbitant prices.
In fact, puy lentils were very esoteric here back then. You might find them in a health food shop, but more likely you would have to go to one of Soho’s Italian delicatessens and ask for them there. Then came Merchant Gourmet, and their tins of puy lentils. And my life was saved.
Now I know I could cook my own, and I do have dried puy lentils in the cupboard for stews etc. but if I want a salad, I usually want it immediately without the hassle of an hour (with a pressure cooker) or several hours (with a saucepan) for the cooking and cooling of them.
They are not at all earthy as you might expect if you have only eaten red lentils, and they work with all sorts of vegetable and salad additions. I think they always are best with a bit of carrot and some onion, and plenty of herbs. And they soak up the flavours of the vinaigrette to make a highly flavoursome salad to have on its own, or alongside protein of some kind. Here I have used a quickly griddled pork loin steak, but they would go equally well with grilled salmon, roast chicken, sausages or even just a couple of hard boiled eggs. I added grated vegetables today, carrot, kohl rabi and onion, chopped red peppers and lots of parsley.
If you have never made a lentil salad, go on have a go. A salad isn’t just for summer, now is it?