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Greens are great, but for savory satisfaction in a summer salad, I love this cool and crunchy lentil and veggie toss. Made with tiny French green lentils, seasoned with spice and simmered to soak up white wine and broth until tender, the salad is finished with the bright crunch of carrot and celery, sprinkled with parsley plucked from the garden, and topped with pretty pink quick pickled red onion. Dashes of Aleppo pepper and smoked paprika go well with the lentils’ natural pepperiness and a dollop of whole-milk plain yogurt adds cool contrast. I often dish this up on its own, with fresh baked bread and some French cheese alongside. But it’s also nice served in butter-lettuce cups. Oh—and the pickled onions are so easy to make! They’ll keep well in the fridge for a full month. You’ll love them on your tacos, too.
Summery French Lentil Salad
- 1 cup small whole green French lentils, rinsed and picked over to remove any debris
- 1 ¼ cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 red onion, divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 whole peppercorns
- 4 baby carrots, diced small to make 1/3 cup
- 2 stalks celery, ends trimmed and remained of stalks diced small to make 1/3 cup
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oli
- 1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. ground Aleppo pepper
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. freshly cracked pepper
- 1 Tbsp fresh snipped parsley, minced
- Quick-pickled red onion (recipe follows)
- 4 Tbsp. whole-milk plain yogurt (1 Tbsp per serving)
- Quick-Pickled Red Onion
- 1 large red onion, peeled, with ends discarded
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 whole peppercorns
- For the Quick Pickled Red Onion:
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Heat to boiling stirring until sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove pan from heat and set aside. Slice onions into thin rings, toss in a bowl to separate. Fill pint jar with the onion rings; pour hot brine solution over the onions. Add clove of garlic and peppercorns to the jar. Allow open jar to cool on the counter while you prepare the grilled meat and shrimp. Within an hour, the onions will have taken on a beautiful pink hue and are ready to use. They are even better chilled for a few hours. Cap jar and store unused pickled onion in the refrigerator. The color will continue to deepen over time.
- For the Lentil Salad:
- In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, combine rinsed lentils with stock, water, and white wine. Add bay leaf and peppercorns. Add three quarters of the onion, cut into four pieces, to the lentil pot. Dice the remaining onion very fine to make ¼ cup. Set the diced onion aside.
- Heat lentils in cooking liquid to boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover pot. Simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, removing lid to stir occasionally, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed into the lentils and they are tender, but not mushy.
- Drain lentils in a colander, discarding any remaining liquid; remove and discard the peppercorns, bayleaf, and cooked onion chunks.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, while the lentils are still warm, toss with olive oil, and add the Aleppo pepper, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and white balsamic vinegar. Add snipped parsley and chopped carrot and celery, stirring gently to combine. Add the reserved ¼ cup of finely chopped red onion.
- To serve, spoon lentil salad into bowls and top with dollop of yogurt and pickled onion rings.
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