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My sister Laney is a vegetarian so before she came I pulled my very favorite source of vegetarian cooking: the Moosewood cookbooks, particularly Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, to see what fun summery options I could dig up. I make a lot of vegetarian food anyway but I was getting bored with the old standards, so when I ran across a recipe for Mediterranean Lentil Salad, it looked like a perfect project for the two of us.
I changed it around a little, leaving out celery (which D. doesn't like), adding in baby spinach and changing the dressing slightly. You can play with it, but here's the basic (extremely delicious) idea:
1 cup green lentils
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp dried
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 bag baby spinach (100g)
1 chopped red, yellow, or orange pepper (I used orange)
1/4 chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried basil
1 rounded tsp spicy Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
Rinse lentils. Put lentils, water, bay leaves, thyme and garlic in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, cover the sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water in a heat-proof bowl and set aside. In a large salad bowl, combine the baby spinach, red onion, pepper, and parsley (if using). When the sun-dried tomatoes have softened, mince and add to veggies.
In a separate bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing and mix until smooth.
Drain the lentils and discard bay leaves. Remove the garlic, mash it and mix it back into lentils. Toss the lentils and the dressing into the salad bowl with the veggies. Do the taste-test and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or chilled with tomatoes, cucumbers and feta for crumbling on top.
This salad is perfect for a picnic or summer potluck! We picnicked the other day in the Jardin de Luxembourg while listening to gay and gay-friendly choruses (who had come to Paris for Pride) singing. Not too shabby.