Thursday, August 21, 2014

Salad Smackdown: Nectarines Make Kale and Lentil Salad Sing

Lentils. Weren't they that popular hippie food from the 60s and 70s that were almost as ubiquitous as brown rice, and just as often overcooked? Cheap and quick, all it took was a pot of water, an onion—adding a carrot was getting pretty exotic—and 20 minutes to turn them into soup for a crowd. A pinch of curry powder in a pot of the cooked beans gave an air of the Indian subcontinent to a meal.

Now, of course, we are awash in choices of lentils in the bulk section of our supermarkets: brown, green, red, yellow, French, Spanish, Italian. The other day I was browsing for ideas in the aisles of my local market and saw some good old brown lentils, but these were organic and grown in Oregon. Awesome!

It was another very warm day here in the Willamette Valley—it seems like we've an extraordinary number of those this summer—and a salad seemed preferable to heating up the already overly warm house by turning on the oven. Twenty minutes on top of the stove seemed do-able, though, so I put the lentils on to cook and rummaged in the vegetable bin for ingredients.

This dish was so successful, by the way, that it's now going in the permanent rotation. Plus it keeps really well in the fridge, like a good slaw improving by spending a few hours (or overnight) allowing the flavors to meld.

Kale, Lentil and Nectarine Salad

3 c. lacinato kale, sliced into chiffonade
2 c. cooked lentils
1/4 red onion, chopped fine
1/2 cucumber, seeded, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 red bell pepper, roasted and thinly sliced into 1"long pieces
2 nectarines, chopped into 1/2” pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c. olive oil
Salt to taste

Combine ingredients in large salad bowl. Toss. Adjust seasonings.

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