This was almost the world’s most expensive lentil salad.
Since my family was over for Thanksgiving Sunday brunch this year, I decided to celebrate the actual holiday with a non-traditional meal of roast lamb accompanied by a lentil salad, both showcasing flavours of the Middle East. The photos show you the interplay of colours in this salad, but just imagine the medley of fragrances and flavours … mint, thyme, lemon, shallots, fresh chili pepper, sumac. And the scent of roasting lamb adorned with all that and more — I tell you, that was a much-anticipated meal and, far from disappointing, it surpassed all expectations.
By the time I had the salad together it was around six o’clock and the light outside was waning. I was determined to get some photographs in, so I hastily set up a tableau on the balcony table, arranging a plate of salad just so. And then, it happened. I dropped my almost-new camera — the DSLR, mind you, not my phone — right into the middle of the salad.
Thankfully, nothing on the camera broke, and I hadn’t yet removed the lens cap. Could you imagine oil, lentils and herbs all over the lens? As it was I had to clean the camera, and there was lentil salad all over the table and floor. So, I ended up doing what I should have planned in the first place: photographing leftover salad the next day, with a sprinkling of freshly chopped herbs to brighten it up (there you go, a little food photography trick — you’re welcome).
This is one of my favourite lentil salads yet, and definitely one that I’ll make in future to go with Middle Eastern cooking. Was it worth the price of a new camera? Let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have to answer that question.
Middle Eastern-Inspired Lentil Salad
© Marlene Cornelis/Urban Cottage Life.com 2016
You can use any type of lentils for this dish, except for red lentils, which turn mushy when cooked. I used a mix of sprouted lentils this time.
- about 12 large mint leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
- 1 small red chili pepper, minced
- 1 small shallot, minced
- zest of half a small lemon
- 1/4 tsp ground sumac
- 2 tsp sesame seeds (brown or white)
- 2 cups cooked lentils, preferably still warm
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- a good grinding of black pepper
Add the herbs, chili pepper, shallot, lemon zest, sumac and sesame seeds to the lentils and mix well. Add the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper, and stir until all the lentils are glistening. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
If you aren’t serving the salad right away, add a little extra lemon juice; the lentils soak up and dull the lemon flavour over time, so start with a more assertive flavour than you’d like the salad to have at serving time.
Garnish the dish with more chopped mint just prior to serving.