photography by Hollye Jacobs
Fully Cooked Steamed Lentils from Trader Joe's
cutting the leaves from the parsley
photography Amy Albertson
I love lentils. I love them in soup, in salad, and as a side dish with fish. I have them as a diet version in Lentils with Tofu and Chimichurri on my Fiddle Diet Recipe Blog I've served them as a side dish at weddings and elegant dinner parties with Halibut with Puttanesca Sauce. I love making lentils for a casual lunch at home as well. I'm surprised that I've never put my lentil soup recipe up on the blog yet because I've been making that ever since my landlady in college, Barbara Keeling, gave her recipe to me over 20 years ago! I will get that up soon.
According to a number of health and weight loss sites, lentils are a 'bona fide belly flattener." Lentils are 30% protein making it the third highest level of protein of any bean or nut. They are considered one of the top five healthiest foods. Because they are high in protein and soluble fiber they stabilize blood sugar and prevent insulin spikes that cause your body to create excess fat. They are considered a superfood for weight loss. Hollye has a lot of health info about lentils on her post.
Most beans take hours to cook, but lentils cook in about 20-22 minutes for salads and in about 25-35 minutes for main dishes. So they are the quick choice in that department too. However, a few years ago I discovered an even faster choice: pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe's (pictured above.) I keep them in my fridge at all times because it they make it so easy to throw together a last minute lunch or dinner. I use dried lentils for other recipes put for this salad recipe and the lentils with Tofu And Chimichurri I use the Trader Joe's version.
I originally served this Lentil Salad as part of a salad trio for lunch at Tina Grunzweig's after our tour of Jacob Grant of Roots Farm. Jacob farms on Tina's historic ranch. The other salads I served were the famous Orzo Arugula Salad as well as my kale salad. (Debbie and Hollye are both vegetarian so this was how I came up with the lunch plan!) For dessert I did fruit salad that had a peach ginger dressing.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced or sliced yellow onion, about 1 large onion
For the dressing:
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley (also known as Italian parsley), leaves only, chopped
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced (do not overdo the garlic!)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
2 1/2 cups cooked lentils (or 1 package of Trader Joe's precooked lentils)
Heat a large sauté pan to medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and sweet. (if the onions seem like they are browning too quickly add a little water to the pan.)
While the onions are cooking, combine the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.
Toss together the cooked onions, the dressing and the lentils. Can made made in advance. If making in advance, only put in half the dressing when you first make it and put the remaining dressing in just before you serve it. Serve cold or at room temperature.