Wednesday, July 7, 2010

With lemon and little else.

After spending time in Georgia, we went back to Yerevan for the day before heading out to the villages.
We went for lunch at a little cafe that's frequented by many of the expats in the area due to its english speaking staff, air conditioning, wifi, and somewhat american menu.

After a week and a half of khatchapuri, pastries, and bread I was happy to find a lentil salad on the menu. It was simple and absolutely perfect, dressed with lemon and little else.

I made a note to recreate those lentils in New York and they were one of the first things I made when I got home.

I planned on using regular organic green lentils but I came across a sprouted version that I used instead. I'm sure you've read about all these supposed health benefits of "sprouted" grains and things of the sort just as I have. I'm not exactly sure how a legume can be "sprouted" and I don't know if buy into all that macro, accessible, nutrient talk (we're getting into crazy-land here) but they look interesting and it couldn't hurt. You could easily use normal green lentils though.
When I first made the lentils they were a bit bland, obviously missing something but what it was, exactly, was not obvious. I put them in the fridge to let the flavors combine and the next day they had greedily soaked up all the juices. The next day I added another few generous grinds of sea salt and black pepper plus another fresh squeeze of lemon to wake them up.
For a little crunch, I cut up a head of belgian endive and piled the lentils on top.

Chopped tomatos (with or without fresh mozzarella) would also be a great summertime accompaniment.

5-Minute Lentil Salad
Serves 2-4

1 cup organic dried green lentils
Olive oil
2 lemons
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh cilantro
2 medium heads of endive (optional)

Cook the lentils according to the instructions. Since mine were sprouted, they only required five minutes in boiling water and a two minute rest in the covered pot of hot water. Regular green lentils probably take longer.

Drain the lentils and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Pour them into a large bowl and add a slick of olive oil. Toss to coat, add salt and pepper to taste and the juice from one lemon. Mix in a handful of fresh cilantro and refrigerate until you're ready to eat.

Slice the endive and divide amongst the plates. Spoon lentils on top of the endive and add another squeeze of lemon. Sprinkle with a bit more cilantro and adjust the salt and pepper again. Serve immediately.

Alternatively, you could chop up the endive and mix it in but make sure to do that no more than an hour before eating otherwise it will turn soggy.


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