Friday, September 28, 2007

Lentil, fennel, green leaf and Gruyere salad

Some recipes -- for instance, in Claudia Roden's Food of Italy -- tell you to soak Puy or other green lentils for 30 minutes or so before cooking. That may be good advice. I have tried it a couple of times recently: the lentils have cooked evenly, and have drained well. (If the cooking process is not so efficient, the liquid tends to adhere to the lentils when you drain them.) There is a previous entry on lentils here.

They need plenty of flavouring, I think. For this salad, for two, I soaked and drained 60 g of lentils, covered them with fresh water, and simmered them for about 30 minutes with a whole, unpeeled garlic clove. I fished out the garlic, squeezed out the flesh, and mashed it into a dstsp of red wine vinegar. I added salt, and a lot of pepper; I stirred in a generous tsp of Dijon mustard. I whisked in 2 dstsps of olive oil until the mixture emulsified. It was a pungent dressing. I drained the cooked lentils, and stirred them in. If there had been any parsley in the kitchen, I would have added that too.

Into this salad I folded: thin slices of fennel, grilled until translucent on a ridged pan; a bag of mixed leaves from the organic box; about 75 g of Gruyere (a goat's cheese would have been nice, too), cut into cubes.


Anonymous said...

Just a small point but why do you drain the lentils after soaking them? Couldn't you just cook them in the same water?


Nicholas Clee said...

Yes, I suppose you could. Even if not soaked, lentils benefit from a rinse before cooking: some of them carry detritus. So I prefer to simmer them in fresh water. Recipes usually advise that you rinse vegetables for boiling, in spite of the fact that the boiling water will do that cleaning job. Why? We don't want our vegetables to cook in mucky water, I guess. But that may be superstition.