I have just made an unbelievable salad.
It’s from Plenty (but I modified it; also, wow, the American edition of the book is actually prettier), and it was easy, and it is amazing. Vinegary. Broiled tomatoes. Sweet. Aaaah.
(Also, I created a very deep gash in my thumb during this evening’s cooking festivities, and bandaged it up and went right on chopping. It was one billion percent my fault—I’m not used to using knives that can actually cut you and did something truly moronic, and cut myself right after thinking “This may not be safe”—and actually it was while I was chopping for things for r&b for lunch, not for this. But still. Also, no one wants another post about r&b, so I have to tell you about it here.)
This recipe mainly appealed because of the incredibly beautiful photo in the cookbook—you should go to a bookstore, find the book, and look at p. 223. I was in the mood for vinegar, which is weird because I’ve always thought vinegar was a taste/sensation I just don’t like; but every time someone feeds me salad lately, I have this very deep, extreme love reaction for the vinaigrette. I also wanted good bread, because I was going to a farmers’ market and am terrible at farmers’ markets and figured I would at least be able to tell if bread was good or not, so I decided I should make fancy salad to go with it. (After getting home from the market, I went, “I hate farmers’ markets. I am so not a foodie. I am, like, a cook-ie. HA!” And then I thought more about how I hate kale.)
I also wanted to use this recipe because before I read it, I assumed it didn’t involve any cooking besides the lentils. Then I read the recipe and found that you are supposed to dry (like, sun-dry, but in the oven) tomatoes for 1 1/2 hours. I was like, BAH. So I spent a while looking up other recipes that included lentils, tomatoes, and feta, settled on this one, and then completely ignored it. I instead broiled my tomatoes in my toaster oven for about fifteen or twenty minutes, until they were sweet, juicy, a little crackly.
I just realized something insane. Other than the knife-in-the-thumb incident, which wasn’t even for this recipe, NOTHING WENT HORRIFICALLY CATASTROPHIC! Not sure that’s ever happened to me before. I mean, yes, it was simple, but still! Here are some things I did correctly:
-Cooked brown lentils. (Though I did cook them for a little too long. But that’s not catastrophic, just life.)
-Marinated very thinly sliced red onions in salt and red wine vinegar.
-Cubed feta cheese.
-Minced fresh herbs. (I bought fresh herbs!) (What do I do with them now???)
-Had arugula in the fridge and put it in my bowl.
The bread is actually the least pleasing part—to be fair, it is whole-wheat/rye bread, which I guess is taking a chance; I also put it in the fridge because I thought it would mold instantly if I didn’t. It’s a very… hearty bread.
So, I don’t know what else to say about this, since it tastes really good. I should probably change my multiple band-aids now. And maybe, like, get stitches or something.
Actually I changed my mind—I really like the bread too. MAGIC.
Lentil, tomato, and feta salad
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. Note: This is much more adapted than I usually do—a variety of ingredient quantities and types and cooking methods have been changed. I didn’t mention all the variations in the parentheses below, only a few more relevant ones.
1 c brown lentils (Yotam uses Castelluccio or Puy, but I couldn’t find either; he also uses 1 1/3 c, but I only had 1 c)
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
2 tsp dried thyme (or 8 fresh thyme sprigs)
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp chopped parsley
3 tbsp chopped chives
4 oz crumbled feta (he uses gorgonzola, which I don’t like)
A few handfuls of arugula
Start cooking the lentils: boil a small pot of salted water, then add the lentils. Cook 15–20 minutes or until tender but not mushy. (Oops.)
Halve or quarter the tomatoes. Mix with the balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, and rosemary. Broil for about 15 minutes, or until desired prettiness. (For reference, the broil feature on my toaster oven is only 450°.)
Stir the onion slices with the red wine vinegar and a teaspoon of salt. Leave for a few minutes.
When the lentils are done, drain them and combine them with the onions, garlic, and pepper. Stir and leave it somewhere to cool. (I had also taken the tomatoes out by this point and had left them out for a few minutes, until they had cooled down quite a bit.) Mix in the tomatoes and feta. It was still warm-ish when I ate it, which I liked; I hope it will not suffer from being in the fridge. (Rereading this, I realize the futility of that statement.)
At this point I remembered I had arugula, and added a handful to my bowl. That’s probably a much better idea than adding the arugula straight into the rest of the salad, actually, because it will get disgusting and soggy, so if you use arugula, keep it separate until serving. (I’m going to eat the salad all week, but if you don’t, this note won’t really matter.) YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM. Seriously. You actually legitimately definitely need to make this, and I never say that. You don’t even have to buy that many things.