French Lentil Salad

Lentils are what I like to call a “low maintenance” bean because no soaking is required and they cook fairly quickly. While lentils are often associated with soup, they can be used in many other dishes, including salad. My friend Susan first made Lentils aux Lardons from the blog Real Food Has Curves, and the salad was amazing. The flavors were simple, based on a small amount of bacon, shallots, vinegar and mustard, but the combination worked very well. It wasn’t the nicest looking salad, but we don’t judge on that criteria.

It was suggested that French green lentils hold their shape better in salads such as these, producing a prettier final product. I was excited to find green lentils in the bulk bin at the nearby Whole Foods. I had planned to make the original version of the dish, but since I’ve been on a vegetarian cooking kick, I looked for a similar recipe, but without the bacon or a meat substitute. I found this version from Orangette, and decided to give it a try.
The salad is primarily lentils, with the addition of onion, carrot, and celery, and flavored with garlic, thyme, red wine vinegar, and mustard. I substituted dried thyme for fresh, and cut back the oil by 2 T, but the real key here is not to eat the salad on the same day that you prepare it. You can take a taste or two with a spoon, but really, it’s so much better on the second day. I found that the temperature didn’t matter a lot; I enjoyed it both warm and at room temperature. This version was different than the one with bacon of course, but I liked them both equally. The choice is yours.

Since I already showed you this week how I pack soup for lunch, I wanted to show you how I assembled this meal. I cut some celery ‘spoons’ and put them in the same container as the salad. A carton of yogurt and a kiwi round out the meal. My cube will turn into a French cafe for just a short time while I enjoy my lunch.

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