Warm Lentil Salad

Adapted from Fine Cooking (Oct/Nov 2010)

This hearty vegetarian dish stands alone beautifully. However, I also think it goes well with the Moroccan-spiced skirt steak with roasted carrots! It can also be enjoyed cold right out of the fridge for a lunch in a hurry.

  • Generous pinch of saffron threads
  • 1-1/2 cups French green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 6 cups water or broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Grated zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Black pepper
  • In a medium saucepan, toast the saffron threads over medium low heat until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes). Remove from heat and break up vigorously with a wooden spoon. Add the lentils and 6 cups of water or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. Reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain and place lentils in a bowl.
  • Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid and cook until reduced until almost dry, about 2 minutes. Add the onion mixture to the bowl with the lentils and toss to combine.
  • In a small bowl, mix the cilantro, parsley, juice and zest of the lemon and red pepper flakes. Pour over lentil mixture and toss to coat evenly. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Serve warm.
  • Quick Tips:
  • 1. This recipe calls for coriander and cumin seed. I don’t have the patience (nor the mortar and pestle) to deal with toasting the seeds, then grinding them by hand. I used bottled, ground spices and they did the job without the extra effort.
  • 2. Leave out the cilantro if your family is averse to it.
  • 3. My children were more interested in the lentils before they were combined with the dressing in the last step. This is a reasonable way to introduce the dish to small children without overwhelming them with all the flavor the last step provides.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 50 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4 – 6

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