Not all lentils are created equal. There are a multitude of lentils, ranging from ivory white, yellow to black. I have cooked with brown, green and red lentils, but I only recently tried the French green (du Puy) lentils. With this salad, in fact. All the hype is true: they are great for salads. They are smaller then the typical green lentil and hold their shape once cooked. A lovely textural play for your tongue.
Guess where lentils are grown. Not France. India is the largest producer and the next is Canada! We actually export the most in the world. Saskatchewan produces most of our supply although I am still on the look-out for NuPak (ie. No Name) Saskatchewan Du Puy lentils in my local Loblaws. For now, I picked up a handful for this salad from the bulk section at Essence of Life in Kensington Market.
Adapted from A Crafty Lass, this is a delicious lentil salad with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes and a caramelized sherry vinaigrette. For texture, raisins add some chewiness and toasted almonds add crunch. The basil ties everything together nicely. It is a sweet salad, so be gentle with the dressing. I halved the original recipe and then halved the dressing recipe again. Add to taste.
Some other lentil recipes that have caught my eye:
Turkish Eggplant, Tomato and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate from The Taste Space
Spicy Red Lentils and Spinach from The Taste Space
Lentil-Red Pepper Salad from Food52
French Lentil and Portobello Stew from Fat Free Vegan
Green Lentils with Wine-glazed Vegetables from Cook Simple
Salmon with Lentils and Mustard-Herb Butter from Gourmet
Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes from Smitten Kitchen
French Lentils With Cashews from The New York Times
Lentil Salad with Capers from My New Roots
Arab Table Lentil and Chard Stew from Cate’s World Kitchen
Lentil Salad with Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes from Avocado & Bravado
Roasted Tomato and Lentil Salad with a Caramelized Sherry Vinaigrette
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup French de Puy or green lentils
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and sliced
1/8 cup currants or raisins (I used raisins)
1/4 cup packed fresh basil, chiffonade
1-1/2 tsp minced shallot (omitted)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup sugar
5 tsp water
5 tsp sherry vinegar (could substitute red wine vinegar, or use more balsamic)
3/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle the olive oil over them. Sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and sugar and toss the tomatoes on the pan to coat. Place in the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes. Add to the bowl with the lentils.
2. In a medium saucepan, add the lentils and enough water to cover by several inches. Add a large pinch of salt and bring them to a boil. Lower the heat to a strong simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until tender but still chewy. Drain, then add to a large bowl.
3. In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar and water. Bring to a rolling boil and cook until slightly syrupy, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Whisk together the sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and salt and blend until emulsified. The vinaigrette will keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge.
4. Add the basil, almonds, currants and shallot to the lentil mixture and combine thoroughly but gently. Add a small amount of dressing, stir again, and taste, adding salt, pepper and more dressing if needed. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with more chopped fresh basil if you like.