Spicy Lentil Salad
There’s a lot of foods that just don’t get proper respect here in the good ‘ole US of A. Way up on that list is the humble lentil. I rarely see it used except by chefs. It’s rare that I see a home pantry stocked with lentils. Most people either think that they are boring little flavorless things or they are maybe just too much work to be worth it.
Of course the reality is that lentils are freakin’ awesome.
They are packed with protein and have great flavor and texture (assuming you don’t overcook them). In the winter they are great in stews, but in the summer/fall you can use them with fresh veggies to make a huge variety of delicious salads.
Like this one!
Spicy Lentil Salad
Yield: Serves 4.
1 pound dry green lentils, rinsed
1 pound fingerling or new potatoes, boiled
1/2 red onion, diced
1 English cucumber, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Cup radishes (about 8) sliced into matchsticks
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
1 Teaspoon smoky paprika
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper
1-2 jalapenos, minced (optional)
1 avocado, for garnish
Parsley, for garnish
1) Rinse lentils in cold water. Fill large pot with 3 cups water for every cup of lentils. Bring to a simmer and simmer, covered, for 35-40 minutes until lentils are tender but not mushy.
2) Boil new potatoes in lightly salted water for 15 minutes until tender. Cool for a few minutes and dice.
3) Dice veggies and combine with potatoes.
4) Drain lentils and let cool for a few minutes. Mix lentils with veggies.
5) Drizzle in olive oil and spices. Optionally you can add some vinegar or mustard for some tang. Season with salt and pepper as well.
6) Serve with diced avocado and chopped parsley on pita bread.
Cooking the lentils
There are many varieties of lentils. In fact, it can be overwhelming. I’ve only ever cooked with a few of them but I do know that green lentils are my favorite for salads like this because they hold their shape and texture nicely.
In other words, they don’t get soggy.
They are also pretty cheap. A whole pound will set you back just a few bucks.
Rinse the lentils quickly under cold water and then add 3 cups of water for every cup of lentils to a medium-large pot. Bring to a simmer and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes.
That’ll give you plenty of time to prep the other stuff for the salad.
I was a bit worried about adding potatoes to this salad. I thought maybe it would be too starchy, but it actually worked out great.
I used these tiny fingerlings and just boiled them lightly for about 15 minutes until they were fork tender.
I didn’t use all of these potatoes (I think I used about a pound). I kept the leftovers and used them the next day for my smashed potatoes from this post!
I picked out some fresh looking other veggies that I thought would work nicely. Obviously you can have some liberties here. You could throw in carrots, celery, fennel, beets, or all kinds of other veggies. Just try to dice them roughly the same size so the salad has an even texture.
Here are my veggies diced up!
When your lentils are done drain them using a strainer or colander.
Try not to overcook them or they will get really mushy. These turned out about perfect.
Before you add the lentils or the potatoes to the other veggies, let them cool for a few minutes. If you add them when they are too hot, they might wilt the veggies a bit which means they won’t be as crunchy. Crunchy is key for this recipe!
Last minute I decided to dice up a few radishes and toss them in also.
Mix everything together and drizzle in the olive oil and spices. You could add a bit of mustard for a tangy kick, but Betsy’s not a huge mustard fan so I usually leave it out.
I served this on a pita with some diced avocado and chopped parsley. It was very filling, flavorful, and healthy!
You can probably guess that this salad was actually a lot better after it sat for a day in the fridge. I had it for lunch a few days in a row and it was fantastic.
Make this while you can! Time is running out to find good fresh summer veggies!