Little Lentil Salad

Some people like March Madness. Others like the early buds of spring. Me? I like lentils.

This lively lentil salad is inspired by the “little” nature of the lentil. You can see below, the lentils are among the tiniest of their peers in the legume family.

Add a little color to this brownness, and you’ve got yourself a very lively lentil salad.

The ingredients are lentils (preferably French green or brown – French green, also known as Le Puy lentils or Lentils du Puy, hold their shape best in salads), an apple, a handful or two of parsley, a couple of stalks of celery, olive oil, ground pepper, garlic and lemon.

I started with some cooked lentils; they are easily cooked in a rice cooker or in a pot of water. Just add the lentils, cover by an inch or so of water and boil until soft, 30 to 40 minutes. (I usually have some cooked on hand.) If you start the recipe with cooked lentils, this will take less than 30 minutes to make. It’s also easy to make in advance, you can keep this salad cool for a few days and it will be the gift that keeps on giving.

First, I separated the parsley leaves from the stems. (If you have the pleasure of discovering celery leaves on your stalks, add them to the mix! They add a beautiful punch of color and flavor.)

Now I start to conform to the scale of the little lentils. I wanted the size of each parsley piece to be similar to the size of the lentil.

That’s more like it.

Pulling out the celery, I started by cutting the celery down the center of the stalk, creating two long, slender pieces. (You could repeat this over and over again until you get the width comparable to the thickness of a lentil.)

Next, I cut the long stalks into smaller, lentil-like pieces.

Dear Mr. Apple. Don’t take this personally, but you’re slightly too big for our salad.

I laugh when I think about a giant apple sitting in a pile of tiny lentils. I thought about eating it down until there was only one little lentil-sized piece left. But my self-control kicked in as I anticipated the much-needed sweet addition the apple would bring to this combination.

I started by cutting a piece of the apple off, so that the apple formed a flat surface on the cutting board. Next, keeping the apple shape intact, I cut the piece into thin slices.

Ultimately, I want to dice this apple up, so I’m stair stepping up the side horizontally with my knife. This creates a 3D “grid” and saves a lot of chopping time…

Finishing my “grid” out, I cut in the other directions (90 degrees) from the initial cut. You can see the little apple dices starting to fall out.

Okay, at this point, I ate a couple of pieces. Okay… maybe a few more than a couple. Can you blame me, really?

Note: If you’ve got some spare time, see how close you can get each ingredient to conform to the actual size of the lentil. Now, there is 15 extra minutes of F-U-N.

For the dressing, I started with the juice of a lemon.

To the lemon juice, I added olive oil.

To the olive oil and lemon juice, I added ground pepper.

To the pepper-olive-oil-lemon-juice combo, I added some tiny chopped garlic. (Add minced garlic or omit the garlic, if you’d prefer).

To the pepper-olive-oil-lemon-juice-garlic combo, I added a fork and a whisky hand.

Let’s put it together!

Lentils. Check.

Apples. Check.

Celery. Check.

Parsley. Check.

Dressing. Check.

The hardest part was transferring my portion to a small bowl…

There she is. The happiest lentil salad the beginning of spring has ever seen. Enjoy!

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  • Sally-kennedy

    I can’t wait to make this one!