I don’t often cook the same thing twice.
It could be because I get bored eating the same thing over and over; it could be because I like experimenting too much to pass up an opportunity of creating something new; it could be because I am just too lazy to follow a recipe.
All that aside, there are a few things that play on repeat in my kitchen, and this lentil salad, my friends, is one of the select few. That means I really like it. As soon as picnic season picks up, make this your go-to dish; it travels well and only gets better after a day or so of marinating.
What makes a pile of lentils so special, you ask? For starters, the flavors of this dish are outstanding, yet unexpected. Essentially you make your own curry powder with a pungent blend of spices: a colorful, lip-smackingly tasty, and totally addictive combination.
What's more, this salad uses a very special legume: the Du Puy lentil, sometimes referred to as “poor man’s caviar.” Du Puys are smaller than green or brown lentils, and are revered for their ability to retain their shape and texture once cooked. Green, brown, and red lentils are great in soups --- they're soft, mushy, and tend to fall apart --- but less-than-perfect for salad. You can find these lovely legumes at any quality grocery store, natural food, or health food store, just make sure they say Du Puy; otherwise, they're a French lentil knockoff. Sacré bleu!
For the Love of Lentils
Lentils are a great legume for impatient people! They cook in a short time and require no pre-soaking like other pulses do.
Low in calories and virtually fat-free, lentils are packed with fiber and, therefore, fill you up.
In addition to providing the body with slow-burning complex carbs, lentils also increase energy by replenishing the body with iron. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with lentils is a smart idea, especially because unlike iron-rich red meat, lentils are lean.
Just one cup of cooked lentils also provides you with almost the entire daily recommended intake of folate, a vital vitamin for child-bearing women because they prevent birth defects. Folate also supports red blood cell production and helps prevent anemia, allows nerves to function properly, and staves off osteoporosis-related bone fractures and dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
Not bad for a little lentil, eh?
The Best-Ever Lentil Salad
2 ¼ cups (1 lb.) Du Puy lentils, rinsed and drained
1 medium red onion, diced
1 cup dried currants (you can also use raisins or other dried fruit)
1/3 cup capers
1/3 cup cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Fresh goat cheese
Fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, or basil
Crispy seasonal veggies
1. In a pot, bring lentils to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until al dente, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and run under cold water. Once cooled slightly, place lentils in a large serving bowl.
2. While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing: Placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.
3. Toss lentils with dressing. Add onion, currants, and capers. Add optional ingredients, such as herbs, greens, and cheese, just before serving.
This salad can hang out in the fridge for a couple days.
Sarah Britton is a holistic nutritionist, vegetarian chef, and the creator of the award-winning blog My New Roots. Sarah is currently a chef at three organic restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she has earned praise for her creative and adventurous recipes. A Certified Nutritional Practitioner, she is also the founder of New Roots Holistic Nutrition, where she educates others to be an active participant in their own health and healing.