the taste space

11-Spice Lentil Salad with Capers and Currants

Posted in Favourites, Salads by Janet M on August 8, 2011

What will it take to get you to make a recipe?

For me, I doddle between what I have already in my fridge, to what is on sale  at the grocery store, to really wanting to make a specific dish. I waver between recipes with a lot of positive reviews, or from my favourite cookbooks and blogs, to more unique recipes with my favourite ingredients. But mostly, it is dictated by what needs to be used up in the fridge. This is why I have a hard time making recipes that are purely from pantry staples (except after returning from vacation and being welcomed by an empty fridge).

I bookmarked The Best Lentil Salad, Ever at My New Roots last year. With a name like that, from a blog that I admire, how could I not want to make it? I adore lentils, especially French du Puy lentils in salads. Then Sarah posted it a second time this spring for her stint at Martha Stewart, and her friend commented:

This salad was the reason that I became friends with Sarah way back in Nutrition School. It is so delicious and easy to make. Don’t get intimidated by the amount of ingredients. This one is a keeper (just like Sarah!)

How cute is that?

Suffice it to say, it has been on my to-do list for a while and I was just waiting for the right opportunity.

It still took me a few months to break it out, but I made it for a recent potluck I hosted. Not that my fridge was bare, but the gathering came together a bit faster than my grocery shopping allowed. Perfect timing. Experimentation with friends.

I had witnesses. We unanimously agreed this was a wonderful lentil salad! Sweet, savoury, and salty, deep and complex, warming yet refreshing… and quite addictive! I stuck with the base of the recipe, tinkering only minorly with the spices (decreased the pepper and chili flakes), and thought the capers and currants were fabulous. The ingredient list is long, with 11 different spices, but they really blend harmoniously. To be honest, I was a bit worried when I first tasted the salad, but it was much better after an overnight marinade. If you can find the French du Puy lentils, they are incredible in stand alone lentil salads such as this. But if you cannot find the French variety, do not let that impede you from making the salad – green lentils would work, too. Furthermore, in case this becomes a staple recipe in your kitchen, feel free to experiment with your favourite dried fruit, vegetables, sprouts, nuts and seeds. Personally, I loved it as is, without too much distraction, and loved editions included some chopped apple and mixed greens too.

The Best Lentil Salad, Ever. For Sure. Make. This. Now.

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month‘s Bookmarked Recipes, and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Preeti.

11-Spice Lentil Salad with Capers and Currants
Adapted from My New Roots

2.25 cups (1 lb) French du Puy lentils
1 medium red onion, finely diced and soaked in water for at least 5 minutes (green onion works well, too)
1 cup dried currants (or other dried fruit)
1/3 cup capers, chopped if large

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or to taste)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp strong mustard
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
pinch cayenne
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

+chopped apple
+mixed baby greens

1. Rinse lentils well and drain. Place in a pot and cover with a 3-4 inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Check lentils for doneness after 15 minutes, but they should take about 20-25 minutes in total. You will know they are cooked if they still retain a slight tooth – al dente! Overcooking the lentils is the death of this dish. Be careful!

2. While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.

3. Finely dice red onion – the salad is best if all the ingredients are about the same size. If using raisins, chop them roughly to make them a bit smaller, and do the same with the capers if they are large.

4. When the lentils are cooked, remove from heat, drain and place under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled slightly but still a little warm, place lentils in a large serving bowl and toss with dressing. Add drained onion, capers, and currants. Chill until serving, marinading at least overnight for the flavours to meld.

5. Prior to serving, consider adding in chopped apple and tossing with mixed greens.

Serves 8.

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22 Responses

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  1. Caitlin said, on August 8, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    wow, this looks and sounds delicious. i love lentils, but haven’t eaten them in a while. i love all of the warm spices in this recipe. i think i’ll be making this one soon! hopefully it doesn’t take me as long to actually get around to it as it took you ;)

  2. Joanne said, on August 8, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    In my opinion, there is nothing quite as fabulous as a good bean salad…and with all of my favorite spices in attendance, I’m absolutely positive this is better than good!

  3. [...] I am trying to limit myself to one heavier salad and I think the 11-Spice Lentil Salad with Capers and Currants wins this round. I think they will prefer the lentil salad, a bit more “normal” and [...]

  4. Diana said, on August 10, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    I agree! I am also a big fan of French du Puy lentils in salads! I am currently living in France and are enjoying their amazing legumes! Thanks for the post!

  5. Priya Yallapantula said, on August 11, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    wow, 11-spice sounds superb and love how delicious and tempting that bowl of salad looks :)

  6. DebinHawaii said, on August 14, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    French lentils are perfect. I love the combination of spices in this one too. ;-) Thanks for sending it to Souper Sundays. ;-)

  7. [...] was testing new recipes for the weekend BBQ, plotting a plan of attack with my Mom, and it all came [...]

  8. [...] her recipes have not let me down: the raspberry dream cake, the sultry peaches and blueberries, the 11-spiced lentil salad, the raw tacos with walnut meat, cashew sour cream and a cherry tomato salsa and the chickpea salad [...]

  9. Johanna GGG said, on August 29, 2011 at 7:56 AM

    ooh – this is something I really need to try – everything seems great except capers which are still a challenge to me but one that still intrigues me – will be off to a grocery store where I know they sell dried puy lentils soon!

  10. [...] a difference and can make me wax from loving a dish to wane and hating it altogether. Remember the 11-Spiced Lentil Salad? You essentially make your own curry powder with all the spices, but had Sarah called it Curried [...]

  11. Ashley said, on September 2, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    I am always always on the lookout for new yummy lentil recipes and I will absolutely be making this one!! I have some French du Puy lentils but maybe not 1 lb. As for what it takes for me to make a specific dish, I’m kind of like you. It’s based partly on what we already have and partly what I really want to make. I wish I could say my meals are also based on what’s on sale at the grocery store but I’m not creative enough in the kitchen to bring home random stuff and find good uses for it.

  12. [...] the heartier salads, I had a no-brainer up my sleeve: the 11-Spice Lentil Salad with Capers and Currants. I have made it so often, and now that my family has tried it, I can’t think of anyone who [...]

  13. [...] quickly whipped up some deep-fried tofu-and-lotus root croquettes for me. I should have stuck to my lentil salad, but I also nibbled on a rice dish and the croquettes. I left that night with a belly beyond [...]

  14. [...] they kept cooking. They became mushy. Still uber delicious, but not as firm as I prefer for my lentil salads. Not as photogenic as I would like, but this recipe was too delicious not to share pronto. I know I [...]

  15. [...] from my brother’s in-laws. Three salads: a leafy green with a balsamic dressing, my favourite 11-Spice Lentil Salad with apples and arugula (aka the Best Lentil Salad) and a bacon-broccoli salad. Roasted balsamic [...]

  16. beingomma said, on April 7, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    I have made this today and have it in the fridge now… I have high hopes for it being a new favourite ;)

  17. That jar of lentils | Being Omma said, on April 10, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    [...] as I hunt for something much more tasty and interesting.  That was until I came across this post  for 11 Spice Lentil Salad with Capers and Currants.  I had most of the ingredients so thought it [...]

  18. […] The Best Lentil Salad Ever: 11-Spice Lentil Salad with Capers and Currants […]

  19. […] Raw Tacos, Chickpea Salad with Mexican Mango Dressing, Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms, The Best Lentil Salad Ever, Raw Brownie, Mexican Chocolate Spiced Black Bean Brownies, Raw Raspberry Cashew […]


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