Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lentil Salad with Tomato and Dill

Lentil were always a favorite in my family when I was growing up. When my father saw lentils, he would do anything my mom asked him to do:)

I've gotten this original recipe from Gourmet, and changed it a little bit. I'll add it below, and just tell you the changes I make. I always add chopped cucumbers, and have no problem substituting the scallions with chopped red onions. I add a pinch of cumin, but don't overdo it, it can be an overpowering taste. Sometimes I add Feta cheese and substitute the red-wine vinegar with balsamic vinegar. I sometimes add butter lettuce to give it a crunchiness, and it does taste great.

You have to use fresh dill, if you don't have it, don't use dried dill, it just won't taste right.

A good tip about lentils is to cook it for about 15 minutes by themselves and then discard the water. It will get rid of most of the gas-sines lentils can create. Then continue cooking, making sure you are adding hot water to the lentils (make sure you don't add cold water). Just add the ingredients at this point.

If I'm in a hurry, I buy ready lentils from Trader Joe's. Those lentils are already cooked and very tasty. You can cook them some more with the garlic or skip the garlic altogether.

LENTIL SALAD WITH TOMATO AND DILL

Ingredients:

1 cup dried lentils (preferably small French lentils)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 lb tomatoes, diced (2 cups)
4 large scallions, thinly sliced (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, or to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan with lentils, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes.

Drain in a large sieve, then transfer to a large bowl. Toss hot lentils with tomatoes, scallions, dill, basil, vinegar, oil, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste.

Makes 4 to 6 side-dish servings.

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