I love lentils. So much so that I probably eat them about two to three times a week. I love that they're quick-cooking compared to other legumes, they pack so much nutrition value into such a tiny food, they're cheap, and they're so versatile.
I usually cook up a big batch at some point during my week and store them in the fridge. If they don't get eaten quick enough (rare) I put them in the freezer. I can easily add them to soup and salads, or any meal that's lacking protein. I've even made some pretty tasty lentil loafs---don't knock it until you've tried it.
This Lentil Peach Salad really lets the lentils shine. Instead of playing a side role to the leading ingredients, they make up the meal themselves. I've paired them with the very last of the season's sweet peaches, as I'm still holding on to summer. I like to serve the salad chilled or at room temperature with a big spinach salad and whole-wheat pita or brown rice.
Lentil Peach Salad
3 cups cooked French or Puy Lentils
1-2 peaches, depending on size, sliced into thin wedges
1/4 cup packed fresh basil, chopped
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Shaved Parmesan for serving, optional
for the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 small lemon
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small dish.
2. In a large bowl, toss lentils, basil, and red onion with dressing. Carefully stir in the peaches. Allow mixture to sit for about 30 minutes to really soak up the flavors. I prefer it slightly chilled, so I let it rest in the fridge. (You can also prepare this the night before.) Before serving, toss with hazelnuts and Parmesan, if using. Season with salt taste.
Jacquelyn Scoggin became a vegetarian at age 16 and has since been in the kitchen whipping up meals for her family and friends. She writes and photographs her love for vegetarian food on her blog, Good Things Grow. In 2009, she and her husband started Slide Sideways, a graphic design and handmade business. They maintain their love for the environment by using organic fabric, recycled paper, and environmentally friendly cleaning products.