This is the best lentil salad I have ever had and the only dish my husband will forgo meat for. It’s adapted from the 80s favorite The Silver Palate Cookbook, and it is a stand-out every time I make it. It can be eaten alone with a green salad for lunch or as a side dish at a summer BBQ. This improves greatly the more it sits so plan on making it the night before you plan on serving it or the morning of at the very least. Try and find the small French green lentils if you can – they really hold their shape and make for a much prettier dish.
Adapted from THE SILVER PALATE COOKBOOK:
2 .5 cup dried lentils, preferably French green or Du Puys lentils
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
1 1/2 qt chicken stock or vegetable broth (or water)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp dried thyme (thyme leaves; not ground)
1/3 cup Champagne vinegar (can substitute any wine vinegar)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup walnut oil (or good olive oil if you don’t have)
1 tsp. salt or to taste
lots of freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped parsley
1 cup thinly sliced scallions – green and white parts
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1. Rinse lentils and sort through them carefully, discarding any pebbles that you find.
2. Transfer lentils to a large pot and add the onion stuck with cloves, stock or water, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 25 minutes (lentil cooking time varies widely), or until lentils are tender but still hold their shape. Test them frequently so as not to overcook.
3. While lentils are cooking, combine vinegar, garlic, oil and salt and pepper in a blender or food processor; process until smooth and creamy.
4. When lentils are done, drain them, discard onion, cloves and bay leaf, and pour lentils into a mixing bowl. Re-whisk dressing and pour it over the still-hot lentils. Toss and let salad cool to room temperature. Add scallions, parsley and walnuts and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate, preferably overnight. Taste again for seasonings before serving.
Yield: 6 to 8 portions as a first or side course.