We're back! We had a great time in Germany and France. We ate some amazing cheese and pastries and visited La Zucca Magica, a great vegetarian restaurant in Nice. Food-wise, I missed beans. I didn't have them very much while I was away, so when I got home, I knew I wanted to make this lentil salad for dinner. This is my favorite way to use the cheap brown lentils. It's hearty, easy to make, and tasty. The crunch of the celery provides a good textural contrast to the soft lentils, and the feta brings some salty tanginess to the dish. I based it on the Mediterranean lentil salad recipe in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, but I changed it enough that now I call it Evelyn's famous lentil salad. (I have delusions of grandeur.) This is my default dish to bring to potlucks, and it's a good way to get some protein if you're a vegetarian at a barbecue. Jon loves it, too. I had to double the amounts from the original recipe because he would eat almost all of it before I got any. I would say that for us, this is pretty great comfort food. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture, but it's not a very photogenic food anyway.
Evelyn's famous lentil salad
The dressing is just a simple mustard vinaigrette, and I don't even measure the amounts any more. The proportions below are just a suggestion. Do what feels right to you. The lentils are kind of bland, so the dressing should taste pretty vinegary before you put it on.
1 lb green or brown lentils (a little over 2 cups)
1 tsp thyme
4 bay leaves
4 cloves of garlic, peeled but whole
5-6 ribs celery, chopped
3-4 roasted red peppers, diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced (if packed in oil, just dice them; if packed dry, soak in boiling water for a while first to reconstitute)
about 6 oz feta cheese (I prefer feta with cracked pepper, but you can get plain or herbed or whatever)
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp dijon or honey mustard
Cook lentils with thyme, bay leaves, and garlic in about 8 cups water for 20 minutes or until you like the consistency. Drain. Remove garlic, mash with fork, and stir back into lentils. Remove bay leaves and discard. Add celery, red peppers, tomatoes, and feta. Mix oil, vinegar, mustard, and pepper with a fork for dressing. Pour over the lentils and mix.