This is yet another salad I made as an unnecessary side dish for the freaking delicious ribs we had last week. And this is yet another salad that I made from one of the Ottolenghi cookbooks. I’m pretty obsessed with the mouth-watering pictures full of vibrant colors and the flavor combination he makes. What I like best about these books is the infinite variations on salads with different ingredients. I used to only make salads with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, but these books opened a whole new world for me.
This salad is made with lentils, home-made oven-dried tomatoes, lots of herbs and cheese – I did one with blue cheese and one with buffalo mozzarella. It’s a combination I would never have thought of myself, but it worked very well. It even took me some effort to make sure no-one was eating the dried tomatoes before they were tossed into the salad.
Recipe from Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi.
I made the pictures before I added the cheeses, cause I knew I could keep people away from the tomatoes, but not from the cheeses. I divided the salad into two and made one with gorgonzola and one with buffalo mozzarella.
I couldn’t find Casteluccio or Puy lentils and bought lentils in a tin. I carefully washed them, but didn’t cook them as they were already soft. I served my salad cold. The salad is probably even better with high quality lentils, but everyone loved my version, so tinned lentils are a good alternative.
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
250 g Casteluccio or Puy lentils
3 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp chopped parsley
3 tbsp chopped chives
4 tbsp chopped dill
80 g mild gorgonzola or buffalo mozzarella, cut into rough chunks
Oven dried tomatoes:
400 g plum tomatoes (about 5)
8 thyme sprigs
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp thick balsamic vinegar
Oven-dried tomatoes: preheat the oven to 130˚C. Quarter the tomatoes vertically and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and give them a good toss. Arrange them skin-side down on the baking sheet and place the sprigs of thyme on top of them. Sprinkle over some salt. Roast for 1,5 hours or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool down slightly.
Place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Stir and leave for a couple of minutes to soften the onion.
Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 3cm above the lentils) and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a sieve and, while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Also add the olive oil, garlic and some black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the cheese and tomatoes as you build the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top and serve.