07 July 2017

A picnic-ready lentil salad with cheese

It is officially too hot to cook again, but sometimes I get hungry for something other than box wine.  Perhaps you struggle with this, too. Behold, the summer 2017 version of STUFF TO EAT WHEN IT'S TOO FRICKIN' HOT TO COOK, PART 1 (sorry if that seemed like I was shouting):

Lentil Salad with Herbs, Peppers, and Cheese
(adapted from Deborah Madison's Lentil Salad with Mint, Roasted Peppers, and Feta Cheese)

Serves 4 to 6

1 ½ cups small French lentils (Puy or beluga)
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced into 1/8-inch squares
½ small onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 (8 oz.) jar roasted red bell peppers , cut into ½ inch pieces
2 teaspoons chopped mint
3 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs: parsley, marjoram, cilantro, thyme, basil
Black pepper
Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar to taste
8 ounces feta cheese
Olive oil, for garnish

Rinse the lentils, cover them generously with water, and bring them to a boil with the carrot, onion, bay leaf, garlic, and salt. Simmer them until they are cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes. They should be tender, just a little firm, and still hold their shape. Drain the lentils and set aside.

Prepare the vinaigrette (see below) and fold it into the warm lentils. Add the mint, herbs, and peppers. Taste, and season with freshly ground black pepper and additional salt, if needed. Taste again just before serving and add a little more vinegar to brighten the flavors. Crumble the feta and gently stir it into the lentils.

Garnish with a drizzle some olive oil over the surface.

Lemon Vinaigrette
1 large lemon
¼ teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
1clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons olive oil

Remove two wide strips of peel from the lemon with a vegetable peeler, and slice them into narrow slivers (alternately, grate finely with a microplane). Put 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice in a bowl with the lemon peel, paprika, cayenne, garlic, and salt. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of the olive oil and taste. Adjust for tartness, adding more lemon juice or oil, whichever is needed.

Alright, so there's actually a little cooking involved, but you can make a big pot of lentils with it's cool in the house and refrigerate this salad for days, carry it with you to work and play, and add variety with accompanying breads, leftover pastas, etc. So, I think it's a worthy investment.