I adore lentils. Not only are they cute, but they are power packed with nutrients, fast and easy to cook (no soaking) and perfectly delicious. I designed this salad to perk up those late winter or early spring days with lots of vibrant and healthy green foods. I love the juxtaposition of textures and shades all dressed in a sizzling vinaigrette. This dish will stand alone or make a lovely accompaniment to roast ham, leg of lamb or a nice piece of fish.

(Serves 6-8)

1-1/2 cups green lentils
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste
2 cups baby spinach leaves, whole or coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Italian parsley, whole leaves or coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, whole leaves or coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
Warm Vinaigrette: recipe below
2-3 ounces feta or chevre cheese, (optional), for garnish
Pan seared slices of fennel bulb (optional) for garnish

Rinse the lentils and place in a sauce pan. Add enough water to cover the lentils by about 2-3 inches. Salt the water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the temperature, cover the pan and cook the lentils, stirring occasionally, until they are al dente tender but not pureed. This will take about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils (don't rinse them) and allow to cool slightly.

While the lentils are cooking, toss the cauliflower in the olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Place under the broiler until lightly caramelized.

Toss the lentils with the cauliflower, spinach, parsley, basil and pistachios. Toss with enough of the warm dressing to make them glossy.

Garnish with feta and seared fennel slices if desired.

Warm Vinaigrette
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red chili flakes
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
Optional ingredients: a teaspoon of either dijon mustard and/or brown sugar
1 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the shallot, garlic and chili flakes in a heat proof metal or glass bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat, until the surface begins to move.Carefully pour the oil over the shallot mixture in the bowl. It should sizzle a bit. Immediately add the vinegar, dijon mustardand/or brown sugar and the salt and pepper. Add the dressing to the lentils while still warm.

Read or Share this story: