Food on Friday: Reliable red lentils

Lentils_Red_VP

By Julia Westhoff

One of my favorite and most consistent dishes is deceptively simple – lentil salad. I simply pair cooked red lentils with my favorite salad dressing and throw in a few key toppings. At less than 50 cents a serving it was a favorite during our time in the Peace Corps and has held up equally well here at home.

The two keys here are the red lentils, which are easily available and cook down to a consistency similar to refried beans, and the garlicky balsamic dressing. I love topping it with celery and hard boiled eggs – cucumber and spinach are also good option.

This recipe makes a simple elegant lunch for two, or a side dish for 4.

Red Lentil Salad

Ingredients
1 cup red lentils

Salad Dressing:
4 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Possible toppings:
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
One handful of spinach
Half a cucumber, sliced

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan. Add red lentils and toast in the olive oil for one minute. Add two cups water. Cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer for for 12-15 minutes until lentils are cooked through.
In the meantime, make your salad dressing. If available use a mortar and pestle to grind your garlic cloves and salt to a paste (a spoon can also be used). Combine garlic and salt with balsamic, add in black pepper to your taste. Finally, whisk in olive oil. Taste and add salt if needed.
Add dressing to the lentils to your liking – you may not want all of it. Add toppings and enjoy.