French Green Lentil Salad

I was looking to make an interesting cold salad for a Tanglewood picnic recently.  I had French (green) lentils on hand and after looking at a few recipes online, came up with this “mashup” recipe.  Joan thought it was delicious so we thought we’d share it here on our website with you.  I’m sure this recipe would work with other lentils but French lentils (Lentilles du Puy, Puy Lentils, or French Green Lentils) seem to keep their “crunch” better than other lentil varieties and have a bit of a peppery flavor.

COLD FRENCH LENTIL SALAD
(makes 4 full servings)

french-lentil-saladIngredients:

  • 2 cups organic chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed whole
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup uncooked French lentils (you don’t need to soak lentils before cooking)
  • 1/3 medium red pepper diced
  • 1/3 medium yellow pepper diced
  • 1/3 medium orange pepper diced
  • 1 whole shallot diced small
  • Large handful of baby arugula – very coarsely chopped

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

For garnishing:

  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped chives (optional)
  • extra salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation

In a medium to large saucepan, bring the broth, water and bay leaves to a simmer.  Add the crushed garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon salt and lentils, cover but leave a little open for steam to escape.  Simmer for about 20 minutes*, until lentils are just tender (test as you cook…you want them al dente…NOT mushy) Drain lentils and remove bay leaves and crushed garlic.  Allow the lentils to cool slightly.

While lentils are simmering, saute the finely diced shallot (reserving 1/2 to 1 tablespoon raw)

In a large bowl, combine the chopped peppers, raw shallots and arugula.  Add the lentils then the sauteed shallots and toss very gently.  If you’re into it, use your hands.

In a small bowl, whisk (or use a dressing bottle and shake to emulsify) together the olive oil, rice vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and sea salt, then pour over the lentil mixture, tossing gently to combine well.  (you might not use all the dressing…it’s your preference)

Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Before serving, taste and add salt and pepper if needed, and garnish with fresh minced parsley and/or chopped chives if you like.

Serve cold or at room temperature.  (if you have leftovers, they’re great the next day too!)

*Other lentil varieties will take less time to cook.

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