It was approaching 5.30pm and my mind was turning to dinner ideas for that evening’s meal. I took a minute to really think about what I felt like eating, and I realised that on that hot and humid July day all I truly wanted was a spread of fresh salads and some baguette (it had to be baguette, and only baguette). It was to be a night to enjoy the fruits of mid-summer, with minimal cooking and maximum enjoyment.
I pulled down my copy of the My New Roots cookbook to have a flick through to see what I could find. This book usually lies unused at university due to its requirements of fancier ingredients and larger spice racks than a student budget/house can accommodate, but I like to make good use of it when I come home and can experiment with some more unusual recipes. One thing I really like about it is its layout, with recipes organised according to the seasons in which the required ingredients are locally available or in bloom. It makes eating seasonally just that bit easier.
In the late summer section I stumbled upon a recipe for the Best Lentil Salad Ever, which can also be found on the My New Roots website here. I decided to pair this with the My New Roots red pepper and walnut dip (sadly not available on the website), a cherry tomato salad dressed simply with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, tossed spinach, lettuce and cucumber, and multiseed baguette. It made for a very delicious spread of goodies. The non-vegans also had cheese with this, which is why that can be spotted in the corner of the image! (promise I’m not a fraud)
The lentil salad
2 ¼ cups (1 lb.) Du Puy lentils (I couldn’t find these in Tesco so used green lentils, which worked fine for me)
1 medium red onion, diced (I skipped this out because I hate raw onion breath)
1 cup dried currants (you could also use raisins or other dried fruit) (I also skipped this out! Just didn’t fancy adding something sweet that night)
1/3 cup capers
1/3 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. strong mustard
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
I didn’t have the cardamom or cloves but it turned out just fine without if you ask me.
1. Rinse lentils well, drain. Place in a pot and cover with a 3-4 inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Check lentils for doneness after 15 minutes, but they should take about 20 minutes in total. Don’t let them go soft.
2. While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.
3. Finely dice red onion – the salad is best if all the ingredients are about the same size. If using raisins, chop them roughly to make them a bit smaller, and do the same with the capers if they are large.
4. When the lentils are cooked, remove from heat, drain and place under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled slightly but still a little warm, place lentils in a large serving bowl and toss with dressing. Add other onion, capers, and currants.