When I'm in the kitchen, I'm rarely thinking about what I am actually doing. If I'm cutting a pepper I'm thinking about anything else. This is probably why I drop dishes and spill things so frequently! I'm often thinking about the times I made a particular dish or used an ingredient. For lentils, I've never actually cooked them before (!) even though I love them in soups and salads and Indian dishes. I remember eating lentils at my Grandmother's for the first time when I was a teenager - they were not something that my mum cooked. Because of this, lentils have always been some strange, exotic choice for a legume! My Grandma made a simple salad with lentils, peppers, and feta cheese with a balsamic dressing. I remember it being tres yummy!
Since I made this salad, I've cooked lentils three times! Four actually, but the first time I used red (based solely on the idea they would make a pretty salad!), but they turned to mush before I knew it! Both red and yellow lentils tend to get softer and loose their shape. For salads, black and green lentils are better as they retain their shape and remain firm. The trick to cooking lentils is to bring them to a boil quickly and continue simmering thereafter. The orange and mint in this salad make it perfect for Spring and Summer! Lentils have quickly become my favourite new food to cook!
My knife skills are so-so. When I am cutting things like potatoes or squash or even cheese, I sometimes even scare myself. This recipe calls for chunks of orange, pith removed. So, I decided to learn the technique to cutting oranges (safely!).
I first cut the end off the orange so that it would sit flat on the cutting board. Then, I trimmed the skin off, removing as much as I could without taking too much fruit with it. Next, I held the orange in my hand and carved out the little slices, again making sure I left the pith (the white stuff) behind. Ta-da, cute, juicy orange slices perfect for a salad!
Summer Lentil Salad
4 cups of water
1 cup brown lentils
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
½ tsp ground cumin
salt & pepper
1 orange, peeled and seeded
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Bring water to a boil in pot. Add lentils, garlic, bay leaf, cumin, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover and cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove pith (white part) from orange sections; chop into large bowl. Squeeze juice from lemon and lime and stir into chopped orange.
Cut cucumber into quarters lengthwise; slice thinly and add to bowl. Stir in onion slices, chopped tomatoes, mint, and parsley.
When lentils are cooked, remove bay leaf and garlic clove. Drain lentils in sieve. Chill under cold running water.
Stir lentils into bowl. Stir in oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss gently.
Makes 4 servings.
Note: I used a red pepper instead of tomatoes. I also caught myself crumbling goat cheese on top! :)
*Recipe from The Farm and City Cookbook