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Lentil Veggie Salad

Posted Aug 05 2011 11:16am
Every summer I find myself in a particular rhythm; one I wish would never end. A rhythm that has me feeling free and laid back in shorts or skirts and t-shirts every day. A refreshment filled with ice in one hand and ripe juicy fruit in the other. Evening walks, long casual bike rides, trips to the ocean or mountains. I am truly a Summer time gal.

Living in the NW makes Summer time especially sweet. If you live here, or have ever visited, then you know that a 76˚F day with very low to none humidity and a slight breeze are the norm. You also know that it takes forever for it to arrive and that its time is always shorter than expected; lasting to the end of September if we're lucky, before cool and crisp Fall days are upon us.

What also makes it sweet is the bounty of fresh and local produce. Even though the first of our strawberries and asparagus come usually a month after all you Californians and southerners get yours, they still come. By August we've practically caught up to you and have more Summer squash, berries, peaches, greens, peppers, tomatoes, cherries, beans, and corn growing so quickly we wonder what we're going to do with it all, but it finds its place.
It's hard for me to understand why people are still buying produce from the grocery store, especially in the Summer. I know there is a slight convince to stores being open every day for that quick stop, but even if you planned to buy just one thing from a local farmer this week, I'd guarantee you'd be hooked and go back the next week for more. Beside, many times you can go directly to a farm and pick up produce and they are usually open through the week. Recently Kelsey and Shaun over at Happyolks posted many great reasons for supporting local food , I'd suggest you read it.
Last week before we headed to the mountains, I made this salad from a bunch of odds and ends I had left from a recent market purchase. August is truly a month for experimentation, you really can't go to wrong when things are so fresh! I also had a hard time finding a name for the salad. Even though there are potatoes in it, I hesitate to call it a "potato" salad because there is equal parts patty pan squash, lentils and curly endive too. So lentil veggie salad is all I could come up with; not exciting, but definitely tasty.

Lentil Veggie Salad
serves 4-6

1/2 cup dry lentils, rinsed and sorted (I used French green lentils or Le Puy)
1 lb fingerling potatoes
2 patty pan squash, diced
2 T rice vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1 tsp. sea salt
3/4 tsp. pepper
2T chives
2T basil
2T parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 cups curly endive, chopped

Place the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with water about 2-3 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. When they are finished they should be tender, but not mushy or falling apart. Remove from heat and drain the remaining liquid, set aside and allow to cool a bit.

While the lentils are cooking, place the potatoes into another saucepan and cover with cool water. Bring to a rapid boil, then lower the heat so a gentle boil. Cook just until a knife can be inserted easily, but that they are not falling apart, about 15 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes. Drain and let cool a bit before dicing into bite sized pieces.

While everything is cooking, prepare the dressing. Place the vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs into a small glass jar and give it a good shake. Add the olive oil and give another shake.

Place the cooked lentils, potatoes, and patty pan squash into a large bowl. Pour over the dressing and give everything a good toss. Add in the curly endive and toss once more so everything is incorporated. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Store tightly covered in the fridge for 2-3 days.
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