There are three bags of lentil in the pantry: black beluga lentil from Canada, brownish lentil from the Pacific Northwest (Bob’s Red Mill) and red split lentil from Trader Joe’s. Should I use one of these or get another bag of French green lentil called for in the recipe? I decided on the former (my fondness for black-color food notwithstanding), since I was running out of time to shop for the Le Puy lentils, make the salad and post it on Friday with the Cook-the-book-Fridays group.
I don’t need much convincing when it comes to Le Puy lentils, which David Lebovitz specifically calls for in this salad. These French lentils are worthy of caviar-like adulation for their superb flavor and texture, and their ability to hold their shape when mixed in a salad.
Now I know for a fact that the black lentils could do no less. Both the black and the Le Puy lentils are worthy of assuming the star role in this salad. The subtle crunch, the taste and the texture are just splendid. This salad has it all. Earthy yet sophisticated. Hearty and nutty. Herbaceous and luxurious. So lovely that we’d want it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Or pack it for lunch or a picnic. Not to mention that lentils are remarkably nutritious with a healthy dose of fiber and protein.
Besides substituting black for Le Puy lentils, I left out the walnut oil. I didn’t have it on hand. I know I’m missing out the effect from the “champagne of the oil world,” as David puts it. I’d surely include the walnut oil in the next round. A bag of fresh cilantro, washed and dried, was sitting idly in the refrigerator. I grabbed that as well.
There are so many layers of flavor in this salad. Scrumptious ingredients are layered lavishly, step by step, in the making of this salad:
- Simmering the fancy lentils until tender, not mushy, in lightly salted water with bay leaf and fresh thyme.
- Making the mirepoix containing carrot, onion and celery as a flavor base to the lentils. Cook briefly with the lentils.
- Brightening with a vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, shallot and olive oil (or half walnut oil and half olive oil).
- Topping with a flourish of toasted walnuts, chopped fresh parsley and crumbled goat cheese as the lentils cool.
This salad is perfection. Culminated in a bowl full of fantastic flavor, texture as well as nutrients.