Lentil Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Although lentils are often thought of as a winter dish served with hearty meat dishes, when prepared with a light vinaigrette they make a great lunch or light supper. The mustard adds just enough heat to bring a little spice to the earthy flavor of the lentils. Serve with a good crusty bread which not only complements the lentils but also helps form a complete protein.

Based on the recipe Salad de lentilles à ma façon in Recettes de tradition by Françoise Bernard

1 ½ cup French lentils, ideally the little green lentilles du Puy

For the Stock
1 onion, peeled and left whole
2 cloves, pierced into the peeled onion
1 garlic clove, peeled and left whole
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into four sections
1 bouquet garni –  a bay leaf, a couple branches of parsley, and a couple sprigs of thyme tied in a bundle
1 stalk celery, cut into 2 inch sections

For the Vinaigrette
4 T good quality olive oil
1 T sherry or red wine vinegar
1 T good quality Dijon style mustard, preferably hot
Salt and pepper to taste

To Finish the Salad
1 T minced parsley
1 shallot, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking the Lentils
Cull the lentils to make sure there aren’t any small stones or other unwanted impurities. Place them in a sauce pan with plenty of cold water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Drain. Refill the sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Add the lentils and the stock ingredients. Simmer gently until the lentils are tender but still retain their shape, about 20 minutes. (While the lentils are cooking prepare the vinaigrette.) When the lentils finish cooking, drain and discard the stock ingredients leaving only the lentils.

In a bowl large enough to hold the finished salad, whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette.

Putting the Salad together
Add the hot lentils, shallot and parsley to the vinaigrette, mix to evenly distribute the ingredients. Correct the seasoning and let sit for at least 1 hour before serving to meld the flavors. Can be served at room temperature or cold.

Variation – Lentil Salad with Camargue Red Rice

A great way to use left over rice. As an added bonus, the legume in combination with the rice – like bread – makes a complete protein.

Cook ½ the amount of the lentils (3/4 cup instead of 1 ½ cups) and prepare the full amount of the vinaigrette. Combine the cooked lentils with the vinaigrette, shallot and parsley and add 1 ½ cup of cooked Camargue red rice (or any other cooked rice). Mix to evenly distribute the ingredients.

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