Warm French Lentil Salad
This article began as a thought filled dish to Post on Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the beginning of Lent for Catholics, a day of Fasting and no meat.
Though Catholic full day fasting will only occur again on Good Friday, still, with some dispensations toward the very young, elderly, or those ill, all others are required to abstain from eating meat each Friday until Easter Sunday.
Many religions from throughout the world adhere to some type of fasting in preparation of a sacred holiday or perhaps as a form of purification.
As sharing food and feasting has always been a central focus of communal celebration and festival throughout history so too has dedicated abstinence and self-sacrifice from food, or certain types of food thus playing a role of awareness and symbolic direction in the lives of the faithful.
The purpose of fasting or refraining from certain types of foods is not always about the foods themselves but towards truer meaning in conscious self-reflection, prayer, and penance, a continual reminder of keeping the focus on God.
In addition to abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, many Christians will make an additional self-sacrifice such as giving up a favorite food as candy or sweets. Others may look at the time to do a little something extra, being more mindful in their everyday activity and prayer.
Sometimes being more aware and mindful also makes our weaknesses come to light more clearly, maybe you know what I mean if you too fast or make more conscious attempts at any time during the calendar in your own religious observances.
In thought toward a post on Ash Wednesday I realized how many of the required meatless Fridays in my own household have included picking up Pizza from the local Pizzeria.
The truth is Friday is one day, eager to unwind from the busy week that I do not really like to cook. Therefore, though I have been real effective in keeping meat off the family table for years on Fridays over Lent, really, outside of the usual daily dinner blessing, it has not afforded my family or me any extra prayer or sacrifice.
Therefore, I decided each Friday this Lent I would prepare simple meatless dishes that involved a little more prayer and reflection by adding on this little extra effort mindful of my own family. The first dish planned, the Warm French Lentil Salad using only a few humble ingredients but making it a worthy dish of Thankfulness.
As I began sifting through the beautiful French Lentils, the light clacking sound of the beans hitting the sides of the colander, lifting them then letting them fall like a child playing with colorful pebbles out of a wide mouth jar, I recounted on things and began to be more thankful for the bounty, the beautiful sunny day that would provide enough natural light for the photographs. Rinsing the lentils, before pouring them in the pot and covering them with cold water for soaking I returned to appreciating each of the humble ingredients to create this lovely dish.
I suppose, no matter what our religion is one of the keys may be to always remember the purpose on why it is in the first place that we are called to these moments and intentions within self-sacrifice. Surely if we keep the purposeful meanings in mind then following that time, we can then emerge more fully in sharing with others the feasts of the culminated celebrations, including family food preparations like Warm Lentil Salad with a deeper sense of joy.
Warm French Lentil Salad
- For the Lentils:
- 1 pound, French lentils (available in the bulk department of Whole Foods)
- cold water, enough to just cover lentils and vegetables while cooking
- 1 large carrot, rinsed and cut into thirds
- 1 large stalk celery, rinsed and cut into thirds
- 1 small onion cut in half, skin attached
- 1 medium onion, whole, stuck with 3 cloves
- 6-8 sprigs, fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, enough to thinly coat the bottom of a soup pot
- For the Dressing:
- one large lemon, seeded and juiced, or more according to taste
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil, approximately, or a touch more according to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked back pepper
- For the Salad:
- 1 carrot, peeled, chopped into small pieces
- 1 celery stalk, stringed and chopped into small pieces
- 1/2- 3/4 red onion, medium sized, chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more according to taste
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese for topping
- 2 cups loose watercress leaves
- 1 fennel, cut into eighths and roasted tossed with olive oil, and a sprinkle of coarse kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- Preparing the Lentils: Sift through French lentils removing any small stones or debris, rinse, then add lentils to a large soup pot, cover with water and soak for at least 3 hours before cooking, drain, rinse
- Rinse out and dry the soup pot used for soaking the lentils then turn the heat on low and pour enough olive oil into the pot to lightly coat the bottom. Add in the carrot, celery pieces, small onion cut in half, the medium whole onion stuck with cloves, and the whole sprigs of fresh thyme. Heat vegetables and fresh thyme on very low heat until carrots and celery begin to soften then spoon in the lentils stirring well with the vegetables in the pot. Pour in enough cold water, to just cover the pot ingredients. Bring soup to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer around 45 minutes to an hour until the lentils are soft, but not mushy or overcooked.
- Meanwhile, toss fennel pieces in olive oil with some kosher salt and cracked black pepper and roast for around 35 minutes or just until tender
- When French lentils are cooked, drain, remove the flavoring vegetables and sprigs of fresh thyme and discard. Transfer the cooked lentils to a long or oval ceramic dish spreading all across to cool down evenly. While the lentils are still warm proceed with dressing and salad assembly.
- Preparing the Dressing and Salad Assembly: Into a mixing bowl, tilt in the fresh lemon juice then pour in vinegar. Begin pouring olive oil into the mixture whisking well to emulsify, add in the salt and pepper whisk together
- When ready to assemble the Warm French Lentil Salad season lentils with the salt and pepper stirring to distribute evenly. Blend through the chopped carrots, celery, and red onion, stir in the fresh chopped mint and parsley. Slowly pour the dressing over the lentils blending throughout while dressing absorbs into the beans. Check seasoning, adding in a bit more salt, pepper, lemon juice or olive oil according to taste.
- Evenly arrange some watercress pieces between the roasted fennel and spoon the Warm French Lentil Salad in a mound in the center of the plate, serve salad warm sprinkled with goat cheese crumbles on top
[…] my whole day. So though I may not have caused a scene on my return, my thoughts were not good. The Warm French Lentil Salad ultimately turned out well but it served a good example on the idea of being mindful on these […]