French Lentil Salad
Most supermarkets carry one-pound bags of tan-green lentils. These are fine for this salad. The recipe serves six or more as an appetizer or side dish. It’s best made ahead; leftovers keep well refrigerated for several days.
1/2 pound (1 cup) dry tan-green lentils
1 small bay leaf
1 medium clove of garlic, bruised
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
3 tablespoons wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large scallion (green onion), or 2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 small-medium tomatoes or 1 cup grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 extra tomato or 8-10 grape tomatoes plus parsley sprigs for garnish
Pick over lentils. Soak them in plenty of boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain.
Place lentils in a pot, add water to just cover, and return to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Skim off foam. Stir in bay leaf, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Simmer, uncovered, just at the edge of a boil. Stir gently from time to time and add a little water, if needed, to keep the liquid level at the surface of the lentils. Cook just until just tender (15-20 minutes), testing a few lentils by biting them.
Drain in colander (the juice can be used in soups or stews), shaking it gently. Transfer lentils to a large bowl to cool, and stir gently from time to time. Remove bay leaf and garlic.
Stir in vinegar or lemon juice, olive oil, about 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus 1/8 teaspoon pepper. For scallion, slice white and green portions very thinly; or use finely minced onion. Stir scallion or onion into lentils. Allow mixture to sit at least ten minutes. Taste, and add salt if needed. The salad is best if refrigerated 8 hours or more.
Before serving, taste again and add vinegar or lemon juice
and/or salt if necessary. Cut tomatoes into small pieces and chop parsley. Stir
both into lentils, plus a little salt for the tomato. Serve in shallow bowl or
heaped up on platter. Garnish with the additional tomato, sliced, or grape
tomatoes, halved, and sprigs of parsley.