Every once in a while I make one of those clean-out-the-fridge dishes that turns out so good — so full of colour and crunch and flavour and goodness — that it becomes its own recipe. You know, the kind where you actually go to the store to seek out the ingredients if they don’t happen to be on hand.
This lentil salad is such a dish. By now my fondness of lentils is legendary (well, perhaps only in my own mind). But really, what’s not to love about them? They’re cheap and cheerful (reminding me as they do of miniature flying saucers), packed with protein and other sexy nutrients, and there’s something about their texture that I find ever so satisfying. You can quickly cook up a batch if you don’t happen to have some on hand in the fridge, so it’s no big deal to make them just for this recipe.
The principal purpose of this salad (apart from providing me dinner) was to use up some broccoli hiding in the crisper drawer, and a few sad florets of cauliflower that I found cowering behind the broccoli. I threw in a bit of this and some of that, added the simplest of dressings and some chopped fresh mint — oh, that mint — and ended up with a surprise: quite possibly the best salad of the summer past. The best!
So now I share this recipe with you because it truly is worth making. Again. And then over and over.
Lentil & Broccoli Salad
The amount of broccoli and cauliflower used in this salad is not absolute; after all, I just used up what was in the fridge. Proportion-wise, as you can see from the photos, the broccoli is much more prominent. You can trim the broccoli stems and save them for soup. Or, go ahead and just dice them and add to the salad. If you increase the amount of veggies in the salad, you may need to add more lemon juice, oil, and seasonings — just keep tasting until you get it right!
Makes 2 servings.
- florets from 2 small stalks broccoli, cut into small sprigs
- a few large florets cauliflower, cut into tiny sprigs
- 2 slender carrots, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced
- small red onion, finely diced
- 1 red chili pepper, finely diced
- 6 to 8 small mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 cups cooked lentils (green or brown)
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1-1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- lots of freshly ground black pepper (but only as much as you like)
- couple pinches sea salt
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Taste, and adjust the lemon juice, oil and seasonings to your taste.