My second recipe for the USA Dry Peas & Lentils Recipe Rivalry is a lentil and olive salad. There's a cafe in town that sells this incredibly delicious olive salad, and it always stood out in my mind because it makes the perfect snack, or light lunch, it fills you up without putting you into a food coma, and olives offer all sorts of nutrition.
In my version, I decided to replace some of the lentils with pardina lentils. If you do your lentil research (which I would suggest you doing before cooking up a batch of lentils that breaks down more than other lentils, because that's just what that type of lentil does...) you'll find that pardina lentils hold their shape incredible well after cooking, and in a salad with ingredients of substance that's exactly the kind of lentil you want, for presentation factor as well as texture.
As the lentils cooked up in water infused with herbs, onions, and garlic, I set to work chopping the olives (kalamata and green onions), onions, capers, and red onion. The simple vinaigrette consists of golden balsamic vinegar (or any other light vinegar of your preference), basil-infused olive oil, a bit of Dijon mustard, fresh tarragon, and sea salt, all poured over the olives and mixed right in the bowl. Simple enough. Once the lentils have finished cooking, I drained them and rinsed under cold water to stop them from continuing to cook, and finally added them to the olive mixture. My other special ingredient was fresh mozzarella perline, tiny little balls of fresh mozzarella, which I sliced in half. I wanted the texture contrast of the mozzarella against the lentils and olives. Toss everything together, and chill overnight.
The best part about this dish is that it makes the perfect appetizer served with baguette slices, or even inside lettuce leaves. Adding to the versatility, you could make this as a side dish to accompany fish or chicken for a summer salad on top of a bed of arugula or endive.
Seriously an incredible recipe, and I've very pleased with the outcome. In fact, I could eat this for breakfast as an omelette filling, or simply with bread!
Recipe after the jump
This recipe was created as part of my involvement with the USA Dried Peas & Lentils Recipe Rivalry. I'll be blogging about lentil recipes over the next two weeks.
1. Lentils with Jalapenos, Cilantro, and Queso Fresco
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lentil olive salad with mini fresh mozzarella balls
Recipe by Christina Provo
Makes about 4 cups
1/2 cup brown pardina lentils, picked and rinsed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
10 black peppercorns
5 whole cloves
5 ounces pitted kalamata olives
1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella perline, sliced in half
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tablespoon basil infused extra virgin olive oil, or regular extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tablespoon finely minced fresh tarragon
3/4 tsp coarse sea salt, plus extra for garnish
- In a medium saucepan, place lentils, onions, and garlic. Spoon oregano, thyme, red pepper, peppercorns and cloves in a tea ball or wrapped in cheesecloth and place in pot. Stir in 2 1/2 cups water and bring just to a boil; cover with lid and reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until lentils are tender to the bite, but not mushy, about 20-25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice olives into quarters, lengthwise, then chop into small pieces. Place in a medium mixing bowl. Add chopped capers, mozzarella, and onion. Drizzle golden balsamic vinegar, mustard, and olive oil on top, along with tarragon and sea salt. Mix together until olives and mozzarella are coated with dressing.
- When lentils have finished cooking, drain through a fine-mesh sieve and run under cold water until lentils are no longer hot (this will help stop the lentils from continuing cooking). Add lentils to mixing bowl with olives and stir to combine ingredients. Transfer to a container and chill overnight, or at least for three hours.
- Place salad in a serving bowl, or individual serving dishes, and sprinkle with coarse salt to garnish. Serve lentil and olive salad with baguette slices and lettuce leaves.