Lenticchie is the Italian word for “lentils”. They are one of my favorite legumes, and lend themselves particularly well at this time of year when the desire for earthy-flavored dishes of all types is high.
I’ve been using lentils in several meals for the past two weeks, a few of which will be appearing in posts later this week once I get around to writing them. I wanted to get this out tonight though, while the iron is hot. Those of you who happen to be vegan, follow a gluten-free diet, or are looking for a little dinner excitement might like what’s on the menu.
As an aside, I mentioned to a friend on Facebook tonight that my year-long project in 2012, The Year of Cooking Seasonally, completely changed my life in ways that I never thought possible. I gradually shifted from a meat-centered diet to a meatless-focused lifestyle. In doing so, I also broke out of the culinary hole that I found myself in at this time twelve short months ago. While the idea of cooking and eating seasonally for an entire year may not be for everyone, might you consider giving it a try one of these days, if only for a couple of weeks? Sometimes what is seen as a limitation is in fact, a liberation.
Winter salads need not be joyless or cheerless. All you need is a touch of inspiration to create magic at dinner. For instance, you may already be familiar with roasted brussels sprouts from their appearance at your Thanksgiving table. Here, they provide a delicious contrast and a re-imagined purpose in a gluten-free version of tabbouleh.
Lentil and roasted brussels sprouts salad
For this salad, try to obtain dried brown lentils instead of canned. You won’t have to pre-soak them, and the difference in flavor is immeasurable. While canned lentils are all right in some preparations, I find that there is a “clean” taste to my palate that is missing whenever canned product is used instead of dried.
The salad has three components: the lentils, the brussels sprouts and the dressing.
For the lentils:
1/2 cup dried brown lentils
4 cups water
1 large bay leaf
a large pinch of sea salt
1/2 large onion, peeled and coarsely diced
In a saucepan, combine the lentils, water, bay leaf, sea salt and onion. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partly covered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Drain the lentils and set aside. You may want to consider reserving the lentil cooking liquid for another use; try substituting it in place of water the next time you cook rice or dried beans.
For the brussels sprouts:
1 cup brussels sprouts
freshly ground black pepper
Trim the brussels sprouts of their stem ends (and outer leaves, depending on size). Halve or quarter each sprout, then toss the sprouts olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Spoon sprouts onto a roasting pan or Pyrex baking dish. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes at 375 F or until the sprouts are crisped on the outside and tender on the inside. Remove the pan from heat. Ideally your sprouts and lentils should be done as you make the dressing.
For the dressing:
1/4 small or medium onion, peeled and finely minced
enough fresh parsley and fresh mint to make a total of 6 tablespoons minced herbs
juice of half a lemon
4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Note: You can vary the proportions for the dressing ingredients to your preference. The above was provided as a rough guideline.
In a small bowl, combine the minced onion, about 4 tablespoons minced parsley and mint, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Mix well.
Add the cooked lentils to the parsley mixture. Mix well. Next, spoon some brussels sprouts onto salad bowls, spoon some lentils atop the sprouts, then top with any remaining minced parsley and mint. Serve at once.
This recipe makes 2 servings.
Time: About one hour, including prep. The vast majority of the time will be spent on cooking the lentils and brussels sprouts.
Edit: Clarified text in the recipe and headnote.
* * *
This is my submission for Weekend Herb Blogging #366, which will be hosted and organized by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything. Weekend Herb Blogging is a weekly foodblogging event that was originally begun by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen.
* * *
Other blog posts involving lentils that you may find useful or inspiring include: