This is a love story….between me and lentil salad.
As most Parisian love stories go, it was accidental and happened at that moment when you’d least expect, yet are open to the endless possibilities that might come your way. It was one of those idyllic fall afternoons in the 5th when you find yourself surrounded by the hustle and bustle of locals toting their daily bread in distressed leather satchels, riding effortlessly on vintage two wheeled modes of transport.
In a small café window fogged with age lay orbs of beauty which represented the truest form of rustic perfection. Flawlessly browned glowing crusts with golden interiors speckled with reds and greens. Despite being enroute to the airport, we couldn't resist one last food-fueled pit stop. Although the quiche were creamy and tender in all the right places, it was a garlicky mustardy lentil salad that has stayed ingrained on my palate. The perfect marriage between sharp mustard, slightly firm carrots, and green-flecked puys that I continually try and recreate…yet never truly can….
Here’s my latest incarnation adapted from one of the truest foodie Francophiles, Barefoot Contessa
Warm French Lentil Salad
- 2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup good olive oil
- 1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 2 carrots, peeled and ½ inch diced
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 cup French green Le Puy Lentils
- 1 whole onion, halved
- 1 turnip, peeled and cut in half
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan, add leeks and carrots, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Remove leeks, garlic and carrots from pan and set aside.
Place lentils in 4 cups of water, add the onion and turnip into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium, add the leeks and carrots, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until the lentils are almost tender. Remove the turnip and onion and drain the lentils. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Earth Balance.
Whisk together the Dijon mustard, vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the dressing to the lentils and mix. Let lentils sit for 15 minutes to cool and absorb the dressing. Finish with a little more salt and pepper and enjoy.
In the past, I’ve never really managed to get the lentils to the perfect texture or found the right mustard or the correct balance of garlic and vinegar. This version was pretty satisfying and the only thing I would do is finish it with some fresh herbs. Despite all my efforts, nothing will ever truly compare to the nostalgic food memory that lays imprinted on my senses.
In case you were curious about lentils, here is the nutritious run down:
- Fiber rich (helps lower cholesterol, increases satiety, and keeps your pumps on the reg)
- Fat Free (naturally, but depends on how you prep them)
- Vegetarian protein source
- Vitamin C (beneficial for your immune system and helps build collagen for skin and bones)
- Vitamin K (enables your blood to properly clot)
- Iron ( Helps transport oxygen to red blood cells for energy. Vitamin C aids your bodies ability to absorb iron, luckily lentils have both!)
- Inexpensive (Nutrient dense and protein rich makes this legume an affordable and healthy item that can be utilized as an entree or side)
- Low Glycemic Index (Doesn’t spike your blood sugar like refined grains and sugary products)