How often do you second guess a recipe? Something just doesn’t seem right… an odd ingredient, a different preparation technique…. what do you do? Try something new or resort to your old habits?
Dreena Burton’s recipe for this Lemon Mediterranean Lentil Salad had me scratching my head. Cook my lentils in lemon juice? With oil? Had I not learned my lesson with the Green Mango Curry? Acid makes for firm beans. Even dry-toasting makes beans keep their shape. I want my beans to cook! Heck, I already know that the secret to great lentil salads is to use French du Puy lentils. Quick cooking, they also keep their shape and hold up well to salads.
So, I forged ahead… ignoring the plea to simmer the lentils in lemon juice. Forgoing the suggestion to toast them beforehand.
My mistake: The original recipe didn’t say to drain the lentils. So I didn’t. I should have. The glory of this salad comes from the simmering finale of the herbs and tomatoes with the cooked lentils. The olives, capers and lemon zest add a delicious mix of flavours that permeate the lentils in a great way. Except, because I had omitted the lemon juice and toasting, 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 will be remaking this, during the perpetual season of summer potluck gatherings, but I did not want you to be deprived of such a great dish… although may I suggest actually following the recipe? ;) Let me know how it goes!
Here are some other great Mediterranean bean salad recipes:
1 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 cup green lentils, rinsed (I used French du Puy)
3-4 tbsp lemon juice (from 1 lemon), divided
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
1.5 tsp fresh thyme
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved if large (~2 cups)
1 tbsp capers, rinsed
3 tbsp olives (I used black olives)
1 tsp lemon zest (from 1.5 lemons)
1 tsp maple syrup or agave, to taste (optional, I did not use)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine half the oil and lentils. Saute the lentils for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 tbsp of lemon juice, garlic, basil, broth and water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low, covering the pot and cook for 30 minutes, until tender. [Alternatively, skip sauteing the lentils, and cook with the garlic, basil, broth and water. Drain when the lentils are tender and add in the lemon juice after draining it].
2. Turn off the heat and stir in the thyme, tomatoes, capers, olives, lemon zest and maple syrup (if using). Cover and let sit for 4-5 minutes, then stir again and taste, adding additional lemon juice if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with pine nuts prior to serving.