This lentil salad reminds me of my favorite grey cashmere cardigan
– I can dress it up, I can dress it down, I can wear it anywhere, and it fits me just right. It never ever lets me down. So, too this lentil salad, which has evolved over almost three decades, tweaked by my mother and my sister and finally me. The origins are a similar dish served by a good friend of the family named Louise. Louise was a lentil zealot – I believe she would have served them over vanilla ice cream if pressed, and I think most of the people at her table would have ate them without putting up a fuss.
About Black Beluga Lentils:
My choice of lentil for this salad is the black “beluga” lentils, called so because they resemble grains of black caviar. I think they are almost as good. Beluga lentils are a better choice in a salad than red lentils, used in Red Lentil and Carrot Soup because they hold their shape and have a less gummy flavor that the conventional green lentil. You can find them easily in Moscow at most supermarkets, or if you are not in Moscow, at better food stores or online.
Black Beluga Lentil Salad pairs incredibly well with lamb and game – I don’t think lamb has made one single appearance on my table without them. When I have them in the fridge, they make a great lunch, topped with poached chicken, roasted vegetables, or goat cheese. If you want to bulk this salad up, try adding some steamed potatoes and carrots. They are served at room temperature, so they are one of those reliable dishes you can make ahead of time and whisk to the table without a lot of fuss.
- 2 cups of beluga lentils
- 2 bay leaves
- Zest and juice of 2 tangerines
- 1 cup of red wine vinegar
- 5-6 garlic cloves grated
- ¾- cup olive oil
- 4 Tbls fresh ginger grated
- 1 bunch of fresh scallions thinly sliced
- 2 red or yellow bell peppers cored and cubed
- ¼-cup fresh dill roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Pick through the dried lentils, discarding any discolored pulses or “stones.” Rinse well under cold running water, then place in a large pot with 3 cups of well-salted water and the bay leaves.
- Bring to a vigorous simmer, and then reduce heat and cook, covered for 15-20 minutes over low heat. Use a flat spoon to skim off any foam that rises to the top. You want the lentils to be al dente: keeping their “lucky” shape without turning into “lentil sludge.” Be mindful that they will continue to cook once you have drained them.
- While the lentils are cooking, whisk together the tangerine zest and juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, ginger, garlic, and about 2 tsps of salt.
- Decant one-fourth of the dressing and set aside. When the lentils are cooked, drain them in a colander and then immediately mix them with three-quarters of the dressing. Discard the bay leaves.
- Toss the lentils and dressing to combine and set aside, covered. The lentils will absorb the dressing as they cool.
- Check the lentils and add the remaining dressing if needed and toss very lightly with the scallions and bell peppers. Scatter the chopped dill and serve.
What are your favorite ways to eat lentils? Do you have a favorite dal recipe? I’m in the market for one! Let us know by hitting the comment button below. If you’ve made this recipe — or if you just think it is a great idea, give us a little matryoshka love below, won’t you?