Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lentil Salad – Delicious and Easy for Busy Days



A lentil salad is one of those year-around meals that I rely on for a delicious dinner  when I’m tired from a busy day and want something substantial but easy to put together without too much fuss. Most lentil salads contain a mirepoix (equal parts chopped onion, celery, and carrot) of aromatics and are tossed with a French vinaigrette. The one I present today is gently warmed lentils, carefully tossed in red wine vinaigrette, then enriched with a garnish of browned, smoky / spicy kielbasa sausage rounds.  To complete the meal, add a simple green salad and pour yourself a glass of red wine.

Lentil salads also make a great vegetarian meal, as shown here tossed with a sherry vinaigrette and garnished with little rounds of goat cheese. Click here for the recipe.


If you can find the tiny French green lentils known as lentilles du Puy, by all means use them. They are from the Auvergne area of France and well worth seeking out. Amazon sells them on line and I find that Fresh Market in the states always has them.

For this recipe today, I used, out of necessity, supermarket brown lentils. I thought I had a package of French lentils on my shelf and when I reached for them, surprise, they weren’t there. I must have used the last one and didn’t make a note to buy more. The salad turned out fine, but I think it is much better with the French lentils. The French variety has more flavor and they don’t tend to turn to mush as the supermarket variety tends to do. You can also see the difference by comparing the picture of the salad garnished with the goat cheese above to the one with the kielbasa, that the French lentils are dark brown and look firmer when cooked compared to the pale color & texture of the cooked supermarket ones. So - do as I say, not as I do. But - if you must use ordinary lentils, check them often while they simmer and take extra special care not to overcook them.


Lentil Salad Garnished with Smoky Kielbasa Slices
Adapted from Gourmet Comfort Food – serves 4 as a main course

2 cups lentils, preferably French green lentils (13 oz)
6 cups water
2 Turkish bay leaves
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled & cut into ¼-inch dice
2 celery ribs, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
½ teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Garnish:
1 pound smoked kielbasa, or other smoked sausage, sliced on the diagonal in ¼ inch thick slices (I used turkey kielbasa for less calories & fat)

Bring the lentils, water, and bay leaf to a boil in a 2 to 3 quart heavy saucepan, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are almost tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Check lentils from time to time to make sure they are not over-cooking.  Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, then simmer lentils, partially covered, until tender but not falling apart, another 3 to 5 minutes.

While the lentils simmer, cook the onion, carrots and celery in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12” heavy non-stick skillet over medium-low heat, stirring, until vegetables are just softened, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic, dried thyme, and a teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper, then stir constantly about 1 minute more until garlic and thyme are incorporated into the vegetables, taking care that the garlic does not burn. Cover and set aside.

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, make the vinaigrette by adding the vinegar, mustard, and the olive oil along with a ¼ teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground black pepper, then shake well to emulsify and set aside.

When the lentils are done, drain well and discard the bay leaves. Add drained lentils to the cooked vegetables that were set aside in their skillet, then add the well shaken vinaigrette and the chopped parsley and stir to incorporate. Return the skillet to the heat and cook over low heat, stirring, until just heated through. Taste for seasonings and add salt or pepper if needed. Keep the lentils warm, covered.

For the garnish, brown the kielbasa in a 12-inch non-stick heavy skillet, turning once, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. (You may need to brown the kielbasa in batches.) If your kielbasa is too lean, add a little olive oil to the pan.


Serve the lentils gently warmed, garnished with slices of browned kielbasa. Cooked lentils will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. They can be gently reheated in a pan on the stovetop or in a microwave, but take extra care not to overcook them or let them scorch.


This recipe will be linked to Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Foodie Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable. Please stop by and join in the fun.



42 comments:

  1. Fabulous! So flavorful and enjoyable. This weekend I'm also going to make a green lentil salad to serve with Morteau sausage...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. I am pouring the red wine as we speak!!

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  3. Reading the first lines already made my mouth water, Sam! :-)

    Living in Europe has the advantage that my supermarket carries half a dozen varieties of lentils, some open markets even more.

    Summer greetings from Vienna,
    Merisi

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  4. I love lentils and I agree with you. The French lentils are wonderful. This recipe sounds delicious Sam!

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  5. I was first introduced to lentils when I spent a summer studying in India. I really enjoy them. Thank you for the information about the two types. I would love to sit down to this salad tonight!

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  6. Delicious

    The vegetarian one is so appealing for today's lunch, as temperatures have soared to the low 90's here in Toronto.

    Helenxx

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  7. I would love this for dinner - I'm a big fan of lentils - healthy and delicious. And the combination of earthy lentils and savory kielbasa here has already made me hungry!

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  8. Just perfect - full of flavor and goodness, not fussy and a lovely dinner - or lunch for that matter. Delicious
    mary x

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  9. Anything that says easy catches my eye and when it's made with lentils that's even better. My hubby will love the addition of sausage.

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  10. oh this looks fabulous!! I bet it is fabulous for lunch the next day too!!!

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  11. Hi Sam,
    Your salad is perfect for a busy day. I agree that the French Lentil's are the best, when you can find them. I love the addition of the sausage to your recipe. We will just love this recipe.

    Hope you are having a great week and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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  12. I just love lentils and this looks good...I want to rush out and get the items needed. It's seems like the perfect lite meal...thank you for sharing...have a great day with love Janice

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  13. Beautiful hearty Summer salad, I always forget about using lentils and I like them so much! Thanks for passing on your recipe;-)

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  14. I love this recipe...especially that I am adding different lentils into my cooking....this salad looks fabulous since the weather is quite warm.
    Thanks for the recipe and hope you are enjoying yous week Sam :)

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  15. I love lentils and this sounds just the sort of thing I would like. Not so sure about Nigel but he does eat pretty much anything even if it is not his favourite! Diane

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  16. Dear Sam, Lentils are one my favorite dishes. Simple and always delicious, this looks wonderful! Blessings my friend, Catherine xo

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  17. That sausage looks perfectly cooked, nice and crispy, Sam! I have never had anything other than dried lentils so I'll have to take your word about French lentils.

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  18. I was wondering about the difference! Thank you! I saw green lentils and French ones side by side at Earthfare in bulk bins and was surprised how dark the French one looked. I will definitely add them to my pantry now.

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  19. great salad and love those green lentils :-)

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  20. I had a green lentil braised with carrots some time ago and it was delicious. This salad definitely a must make!

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  21. I'm a big fan of lentil soup but don't think I've eaten them another way. Your dish looks delicious, especially with the sausage pieces nestled on top.

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  22. What a delicious summer meal! I can't wait to make this for my husband! I know he'll love it! Thank you for sharing!

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  23. I love lentils -- will have to try these. A friend makes a yummy lentil salads that involves green onions and dried cranberries.

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  24. I have not had lentils and sausages in a long time. This is a great reminder for meals during busy weeknights.

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  25. Sam, you truly have the most mouth-watering photographs. Wow, that looks good. My go-to Lentil Salad has always been Lentil-Bulgur Salad out of the Moosewood Cookbook. It calls for adding chunks of feta cheese as an option, and lately, I've left the feta out. I love the idea of trying it with goat cheese though as it would add an unexpected tang. Thanks for sharing a delicious delight!

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  26. I like this dish and kielbasa is a flavorful addition. What I really like, is that the meat does not take front center stage but is a perfect companion. Delicious!

    Happy Summer to you Sam!

    Velva

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  27. What a delightful salad and I will be tracking down the petit green lentils this week. Your recipes are divine and your photos professional!

    Bises,
    Genie

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  28. This sounds delicious, Sam. Spicy kielbasa is a wonderful addition to a lentil salad. I have made your recipe with the goat cheese and agree with your comment about the French lentils.

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  29. My mother cooked lentils often in France but here I do not think about them. Both of your recipes look so good. I have never thought to place goat cheese with lentils but I’ll try as I enjoy goat cheese so much. Today I found a recipe for cymling also called patty pan squash I think. It was from one of my southern cookbooks and I had just bought some at the Saturday Farmers’ Market on the square. Have you ever tried cooking them?

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  30. My hubby has made his dislike for lentils very clear, but I'm saving this recipe for when he's out of town :) I'd be happy to eat it for many meals in a row!

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  31. i love that you used sausage in this. I always have sausage in the fridge but get tired of doing it the same way. So creative and delicious

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  32. Oh Sam, this is exactly the kind of dish I love to eat. So glad to see you browned the kielbasa - I can just imagine savoring a bowlful. Pinning this one!!

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  33. Oh I've never had lentils until I went to Paris once and all of my French friends ordered a lentil salad that was not nearly as divine as yours! I think I'll just print this off right now and have it soon. Merci!
    V

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  34. I love the firmer imported French or Italian lentils, Sam, but this looks delicious even with the plain supermarket variety.

    I also enjoyed perusing your Pinterest boards this evening! :)

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  35. I love lentils and they're so good for you! I particularly enjoy red lentils. The only problem is I don't make them often enough. But you've got me salivating for some. Perhaps, tonight.

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  36. I make lentils all the time. They are good for you and delicious as well.

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  37. That looks just luscious! How can something so humble as beans be so rich and creamy and delicious!

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  38. I haven't tasted French lentils yet but I do love lentils. One of my old standbys is lentil soup which also uses a smoked ham for flavor. Now that I know Fresh Market carries them, I'm going to seek them out next time I'm near one because I'd love to try this!

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  39. A pretty salad even if it wasn't your French lentils. And yes I think there is a difference too. Lentils aren't my husband's favorite but put sausage with them and he would be happy.

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  40. Lentil salads are the best. Love how you've combined yours with kielbasa. Very hearty as well as healthy, Sam!

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  41. The subject of this week's Food on Friday is Salad. It would be great if you linked this in. This is the link . I found this through Full Plate Thursday

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Sam