If you are hitting a barbecue this summer, consider ditching the macaroni salad for this bountiful bowl of hearty and healthy lentils. This high fiber, high protein, high vitamin legume is a total baller when it comes to eating right. It's got folate, iron, riboflavin, potassium and did I mention flavor? But perhaps, above all of it's health benefits my favorite thing about lentils is they fill you up! In the winter, I use lentils a lot in soups, but in this salad, they are light and fresh, dressed with lemons, fresh tomatoes, red onions and parsley to deliver a flavorful summer backyard staple! And this is one of those dishes that I find to get better with age, so expect even more deliciousness the next day.
And if you are new to lentils, typically here in the US we primarily have our store shelves stocked with brown lentils, which are great for this dish. But if you ever find yourself in Italy, Umbria is the region of the lentil (as well as the region where most of my family is from). I may be biased, but the best lentils in the world come from this area! And if you can't get to Italy, you can also purchase them online.
But this recipe shines with whatever lentil you've got!
I made this in a big batch to feed 8 - 12 people, but even if you don't have that many folks gathered around your picnic table, it's great to make and pick on all week long.
What Do I Need
2 Red Onions (chopped)
4 Cloves of garlic (minced)
2 Large Carrots (chopped)
2 Cups of Lentils
2 Cups of Vegetable Stock
3 Cups of Water
1 Bay Leaf
2 T Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Fresh Parsley (chopped)
10 Oz Grape Tomatoes (halved)
Zest of One Lemon
3 T Lemon Juice
S & P
Heat a medium to large sauce pan on the oven and add a drizzle of olive oil, saute your onion and garlic for 2 - 4 minutes, until your onions are translucent and your garlic golden and fragrant. Next, add your carrot and saute for another 2 - 4 minutes. Now it is time to add your lentils, stir to coat them with the goodness in your pan. Now slowly and carefully add your vegetable stock and water. Add your bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Your lentils should be covered with the water and stock, if they are not, add a bit more water. You don't want them swimming in liquid, but they should be covered. Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked, but be very careful not to overcook them. Remove the bay leaf and drain your lentils in a colander, pour into a metal or glass bowl and add 2 tablespoons on olive oil, mix gently. This next step I do when time allows and I suggest you do as well. So, if you have time, cover your bowl of lentils with foil and place in the fridge for ten minutes. I do this to halt the cooking process. Lentils, much like pasta can overcook quickly and become mushy! I find a few minutes in the fridge helps keep the lentils soft and tender but not mushy! After your lentils have cooled, add your parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, grape tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste! This is a great dish to make a day ahead of time as it just develops more flavor as it sits.
Serve cold or at room temperature!