Spiced puy lentil salad
Lentils can be a hard sell, but these even managed to get a compliment from a lentil AND yogurt hater. Lentils are mixed with lemon, toasted cumin and coriander, golden onions, garlic, yogurt and if you want extra deliciousness, goat’s feta or chevre. Ottolenghi, we love you. Both of us. This is a very adapted version of his puy lentil galettes (Plenty, p.208), morphed into a salad. I tossed with grated carrots for crunch, let the flavours play together, then layered with green leafy bits (I used miner’s lettuce from the garden, but baby spinach is Ottolenghi’s first choice).
I ran out of lemons so used some bottled (gulp) lime juice and lemon balm. I wouldn’t really say this is a good route to go, just by the way. It was still tasty, but definitely missing the sour kick needed and loved in the first version. Likewise, the yogurt should ideally be thick and sour – this is one of the few times I’d reach for Cyclops yogurt over Clearwater! The lemon isn’t actively sour it just helps balance the earthy flavours in this, so don’t skimp!
So how would I describe this? A little gritty from the combo of carrots and lentils, sweet from the onions and spices, rich and kind of silky/creamy at the same time without being gluggy or that kind of stick-to-your ribs wintery. Doesn’t sound great, but it was wonderful – once you mix the lentils, lemon, spices, and onion, you will undoubtedly swoon. To be honest if I wasn’t feeling more virtuous I’d have just eaten that – no goat’s cheese needed even. Do what suits you and what you have on hand though. This could easily be vegan even – you may want to use sorrel as the leaves though or add some more lemon juice (you’ll have a slightly soupier mix though). One thing I’d recommend though is to cook the spices as specified in the recipe – I tried shortcutting and it didn’t taste the same at all!
serves two. ingredient amounts are fairly flexible
- large handful of cooked puy lentils* (I got mine from Med Foods, they’re local! How cool is that?!), drained
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- enough fresh lemon or lime juice (plus zest) to wet the lentils so they are a bit sloppy
- a large spoonful of thick, sour greek yogurt
- extra virgin olive oil, cooking oil and salt
- 1 carrot, grated
- optional: about 75g goat’s feta or chevre, crumbled
- optional: lemon balm, finely chopped, or coriander and mint (Ottolenghi included these, but I don’t like or have either) – leave sine whole for garnish if you want
- salad leaves (pref baby spinach)