Lentil Salad

We've had a wonderful double Bank Holiday weekend lazing about and doing very little. This has been mostly due to the dreary state of the weather - very unusual for this part of the world at this time of year. We would've loved to have been out in the water getting to grips with our very primitive surfing skills but it was not to be. Never worry, we have a whole summer ahead of us to master this surfing melarkey (If anything, I'm an optimist!). I must admit it's been lovely to just potter about, do a bit of cooking, quite a bit of eating and a moderate amount of drinking. Pretty much bliss. In fact, the weather was so insane last night (thunderstorms galore) we hid in bed.... with cocktails. That was fun.

I've also just started to read The China Study and already I'm completely gripped. I was worried it was going to be very heavy going but I think it is brilliantly written, as well as being incredibly informative and positively inspirational from the get go. You know you're reading a good book when your heart starts to beat faster and your eyes widen with excitement with every nugget. I have a feeling I'm going to race through it.

Like I said, there's been plenty of eating over the last few days, some of it exceedingly healthy (like this salad) and some of it not so - we consumed a gargantuan vegan cooked breakfast on Friday and Saturday seemed to be a day of never ending bread; bagels, ciabatta, pizza, so this lentil salad was a welcome relief when it came.

Lentils are fabulous. Hot or cold they can be used in a multitude of dishes and their meaty texture and earthy flavour make them unlike any other pulse. I always keep at least two bags in my cupboard - red and green (pref. puy) - because they are almost a meal in themselves. Quite honestly I could sit down to a bowlful of lightly seasoned cooked lentils and be perfectly happy. My Husband on the other hand would not be so easily pleased so I've tarted them up with an array of added vegetables and herbs to create this wonderfully fresh and easy salad.

Almost pearlescent before cooking, pretty and delicate after, the humble lentil is definitely at the top of my favourite foods list. Because of my mild aversion to tvp or soya mince I would be lost without lentils - I particularly love them in shepherdess pie! However, as with most things, simpler is better and this salad is the perfect way to enjoy lentils because in this dish they are, without a doubt, the star of the show.

Bon appetit!

Lentil Salad

1 cup puy (french style) lentils

1/2 red onion

10 pomodorino (or cherry) tomatoes

1 celery stick

1 small courgette

1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tbsp slice basil

1 large dried fig

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

zest of 1 lemon

juice 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp olive oil

sea salt and pepper


1 tsp wholegrain mustard

juice 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp red wine vinegar (vegan)

1 tsp sweet freedom or agave syrup

3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and pepper

Rinse and sort the lentils. Place them in a pan and top with two cups of water. Cover, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 15-20mins until tender. Not all the liquid will be absorbed so you'll need to drain. They will be delicate at this stage so try not to handle them too much. Set aside and allow to cool.

Finely chop the red onion. Slice the tomatoes. Wash and grate the courgette. Finely chop the celery - as fine as possible. Chop the fig into small pieces and zest the lemon.

Put all the ingredients including the lentils into a large bowl and gently mix. Season generously and add the lemon juice and oil. Give a thorough stir.

Put all the dressing ingredients into a jam jar and shake vigorously until it emulsifies. Taste and adjust for seasoning if necessary.

Add the chopped flat leaf parsley, slice basil and seeds to the bowl, pour over the dressing and combine.

Serve alone, as a side dish or a starter. Would also work wonderfully with some crumbled cashew cheese sprinkled over the top.