Warm lentil salad with sun-dried tomatoes

December 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm (Beans, F (0 stars, inedible), Peter Berley)

This recipe (from Peter Berley’s cookbook The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen) is for a warm lentil salad with Mediterranean flavors.  I was positive we made this recipe before (unsuccessfully), but I couldn’t find any post about it on my blog.  So we decided to give it another try.  Last time I think part of the problem was that the sundried tomatoes we used weren’t very good.  This time I used tomatoes from my mother’s garden, that she dried herself!

The first step is to rehydrate the sundried tomatoes in hot water.   While the tomatoes are hydrating, you start boiling 1 cup of lentils and saute onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.  When the lentils are cooked you toss them with some olive oil, then mix in the sauteed veggies and rehydrated tomatoes, chopped parsley, and a few tablespoons of lemon juice or red wine vinegar.

We tried to reduce the amount of olive oil (and hence also the vinegar), but the salad tasted quite bland.  We ended up adding 1/4 cup of olive oil (slightly less than the 1/3 cup in the recipe) and just under 2.5 Tbs. of red wine vinegar.  There was plenty of vinegar, but still the salad was bland and kind of muddy tasting.  In addition to the flavors being off, our salad had serious textural problems.

Berley says to cook the green lentils using the pasta method.  More specifically, you boil green lentils, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  You add salt and boil for another 10-15 minutes.  Berley says the lentils should still hold their shape, but half of our lentils totally fell apart and the other half were a tad undercooked.  I wasn’t sure if the lentils didn’t hold together because of the type of lentil or because of the cooking method.  I looked up lentils on Cook’s Illustrated and they do say that the green/brown lentils maintain a relatively firm texture when cooked, and so they’re good for salads.  So I suppose the cooking method is to blame.  I’ve never seen another recipe that suggests cooking beans or lentils at a rolling boil!

French green Small, dark green Earthy, slightly starchy taste Firm, resilient texture that won’t fall apart even when long-cooked Salads and side dishes
Black or “beluga” Tiny, jet black Robust, meaty taste Firm, creamy texture that holds shape well Salads and side dishes
Green, brown Medium, pale green or brown Vegetal, mineral taste Relatively firm texture when cooked Salads, soups, and side dishes
Red Small, orange Delicate taste with floral hints Disintegrates completely when cooked Soups, Indian dal
Yellow Medium, pale golden Bland, starchy taste Disintegrates completely when cooked Soups, Indian dal

To try to save the dish, I braised some seitan in the soaking liquid from the sun-dried tomatoes.  When we threw the (quite tasty) seitan and some kalamata olives into the salad, it was better.  Even though the original recipe didn’t turn out so well, I really like the idea of the recipe, so please post a comment if you have a better recipe for a warm lentil salad with Mediterranean flavors.

Rating: C
Derek: B-

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