My pantry door refuses to shut.
The shelves are increasingly packed with an ever-expanding myriad of ingredients I seem to collect each time I go to the store.
Sometimes I wonder if a few aren’t jumping into my cart on their own, hitching a ride home to join the rest. They must be; I couldn’t possibly have bought that new jar of olives when there were 2 waiting at home, or that bag of black lentils when there was an unopened bag in the back.
Unlike the fridge which gets surveyed for freshness and cleared regularly of remnants, the pantry continues to grow exponentially with layer upon layer of staples and interesting jars and boxes of foodstuffs picked up here and there.
So since I found myself with an extra bag of lentils and no place to set them, I decided to put them to good use right away.
Black beluga lentils are a unique variety of the lentil family; with their jet black skin and diminutive round shape they are named after the caviar they resemble. Like other lentils they are high in protein, iron and fiber, but retain their shape after cooking similar to French du Puy lentils. The advantage of black lentils is their quick cooking time (only 10 to 15 minutes). They have a mild earthy and mineral flavor and once split reveal a creamy yellow interior.
Lentil salad with mustard vinaigrette is a truly classic French combination, dead simple but uncommonly good and satisfying. The mustard adds just enough heat to the hearty lentils. I paired my black lentils with mild and earthy baby Cremini mushrooms for a woodsy flavor and crumbled in a few chunks of goat’s cheese and a sprinkle of toasted walnuts.
This salad is best served still slightly warm a top a bed of bitter greens like dandelions for a slight bite but baby spinach leaves work well too. The greens bring a little freshness and color to the otherwise monochromatic dish. This is hearty feel good food.
RECIPE: Black Beluga Lentil Salad with Mushrooms, Dandelion Greens and Mustard Vinaigrette
- 200g / 1 cup black beluga lentils
- sea salt
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon/22ml of sherry vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons/30ml of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 oz / 114 g cremini (baby portabella) mushrooms, thinly sliced on a mandoline
- 1 small bunch of young dandelion greens, torn into small pieces
- 56g/ 2 oz of goat cheese, crumbled
- 60g / ½ cup toasted walnuts or hazelnuts
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Rinse lentils well and add them to the boiling water with a big pinch of salt. Lower heat and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until just tender.
- Meanwhile make the vinaigrette by whisking together the mustard, vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the thinly sliced mushrooms, toss and set aside.
- Drain lentils. Add warm lentils to the dressed mushrooms and add greens. Toss to coat and top with goat cheese and toasted nuts.
- Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and serve.
You can substitute French du Puy lentils for the black lentils but they will take longer to cook.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 15 minute(s)
Diet type: Vegetarian
Diet tags: Gluten free
Number of servings (yield): 4
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