Curried Lentil Salad with Apples and Potatoes

Lots of good flavors and textures here. This dish can come together in little time, even accounting for the cooking times of the lentils and the potatoes. The puy lentils from France are the best for salads as they hold their shape best, but the regular brown ones are perfectly fine. If you choose to go with red lentils, you’ll have to watch them closely as they dissolve into mush quickly. Check them for doneness after 10 minutes. By the way, this tastes great without curry powder, if you’re not a fan of curries.

water, broth or stock, as needed for cooking potatoes and lentils separately
3 – 4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
4 T vegetable oil, plus extra if needed
1 c chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T curry powder, optional
1 1/2 green lentils, rinsed and drained
2 medium apples, cored and diced
4 T (fresh) lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
salt, to taste
fresh chopped parsley or cilantro, for garnish

1. Put potatoes into a pot of cold water or broth. Bring to the boil and cook until tender. Drain and reserve.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet. Sauté onion until tender, about 5 minutes, then add garlic and curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, another minute. Stir in lentils and cook for another minute. Add 3 c liquid, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape. If the liquid has evaporated before the lentils are done, add more. When the lentils are done, remove from heat and drain, if necessary. Put into a serving bowl.

3. In the interim, chop the apples and put into a bowl with the lemon juice. Reserve.

4. Add the potatoes to the lentils along with the apples. Season with some salt. Toss to combine. Taste for seasonings. Perhaps a splash of oil. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Beet and Chickpea Salad

A French recipe, from Provence. If you don’t want to use anchovies, use a couple of teaspoons of miso or soy sauce in the dressing. Lentils would be good here, too, and celeriac or other roots, along with the beets or alone. If you want to save some time, you could just grate or dice the beets raw, though I think the flavor is not as good.

4 – 5 beets
1 1/2 c cooked chickpeas, rinsed if from a can and salty
4 T chopped parsley or some green, such as arugula or tat soi
4 anchovies or 2 t anchovy paste
1 or 2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 T red wine or sherry vinegar
1 T (fresh) lemon juice, or more red wine vinegar
5 T extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Roast beets. You can wrap them in foil, place them on a baking sheet and roast at 375ºF until tender (a knife tip will go into the beet easily). Or you can put them in a covered casserole with water to cover the bottom and roast at the same temperature until tender. Remove from oven, allow to cool, peel if you wish, then slice, dice, or cut into wedges.

2. Combine beets, chickpeas and parsley in a serving bowl. Set aside while you prepare the dressing.

3. In a small bowl or with a mortar and pestle, mash the anchovies and garlic until a paste is achieved. Even if using anchovy paste, you’ll want to mash it with the garlic so the garlic is paste-like. Add the vinegar and lemon juice. Add the oil in one tablespoon increments. Taste and add salt and pepper. Toss with beets and chickpeas and serve.

Roots in Mustard Dressing

This is a French preparation for root vegetables, modeled on the well-know remoulade, which uses mayonnaise. It’s simple and tasty, with the sharpness of the mustard dressing playing off the earthiness of the roots. You can use all one root, or a combination. An elegant dish if you cut it into julienne or matchsticks, workmanlike if grated–both good.

3 c or so chopped (julienned, diced, shredded) root vegetable(s)
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t lemon juice
4 T Dijon or other prepared mustard
3 T boiling water
6 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T white wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped fresh herb, for garnish, optional

1. Combine chopped vegetable(s) in a bowl with the salt and lemon juice. Allow to stand for 30 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a kitchen towel to dry.

2. Swish some hot water in a serving bowl. Dry. Add mustard to warmed bowl then whisk in boiling water. Slowing add olive oil, in a slow, slim stream, whisking until incorporated. Next add the vinegar, in much the same way. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Fold in the root(s). If possible, allow to marinate for a few hours. Garnish with fresh, chopped herb.

Curried Lentil, Kohlrabi, Grain, and Greens Salad

This seems like a bit of work, and while it is a more involved recipe than I usually care to make, the results are quite impressive, not to mention delicious. It’s good for a gathering, or to take to a gathering. You can use any kind of lentil, just cook them so they still retain their shape. This applies especially for red lentils, which dissolve into a (delicious) mush quickly, so cook then until barely tender. Quickly prepared grains, such as couscous and bulgur lessen the work load, as do already-cooked grains–just bring the latter to room temperature before creating the dish.

1/2 c rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
4 1/2 t curry powder
2 garlic gloves, pressed
2/3 c sesame, safflower or other vegetable oil
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
5 – 6 c cooked lentils (from about 2 c dried)
3 c peeled, diced kohlrabi
3 c cooked grain
6 – 8 c chopped salad greens
1 c chopped scallions
fresh, chopped herb, for garnish, optional

1. Combine vinegar, curry powder, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

2. Put cooked, cooled lentils, kohlrabi, cooked grain, greens, and scallions in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Pour dressing over. Toss again. Taste for seasonings. Sprinkle with some fresh, chopped herb.

Kohlrabi “Waldorf” Salad

This variation on the famous Waldorf Salad–apples, celery, walnuts, mayo–replaces the celery with kohlrabi, to delicious effect. Kohlrabi, the crispy love-child of cabbage and turnip, has an earthy sweetness that combines well with apples. Shred, cube, julienne, slice or chop up the kohlrabi and apples to your personal preference. If the dried fruit seems, well, dry, (desiccated, I mean) plump in hot water for about 15 minutes, then drain and dry before adding to the salad. Feel free to enlarge upon the ingredient list. Carrots make a colorful addition, and scallions would add a spicy edge.

4 c peeled, prepared (as above) kohlrabi
3 c (peeled) prepared (as above) apples
1/2 – 3/4 c raisins or other dried fruit, plumped if necessary
1/2 – 3/4 c (toasted) walnuts or other nuts or seeds
1/4 c mayonnaise, plus more if you think necessary
2 T lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
salad greens, for serving, optional

1. Combine all ingredients except salad greens in a serving bowl. Serve as is, or on a bed of salad greens.

Roasted Beet and Mizuna Salad

Salads are great, no denying. Not much can beat a salad of fresh vegetables–except perhaps a salad composed of fresh and roasted vegetables. You get the best of both worlds. The deep, caramelized flavor of the beets (or any other roots you have on hand) anchor the slightly bitter, cooling greens.

1 lb or so beets, scrubbed and trimmed
1/4 c balsamic or other red wine vinegar
1 1/2 t honey or agave
1 1/2 t prepared mustard
2/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 t lemon zest, optional
salt and pepper, to taste (remember that feta is often salty)
8 c or so chopped mizuna or other greens, or a combination
1 1/2 c crumbled feta cheese; or goat cheese, or blue cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Wrap beets individually, if large, or several at a time, in foil. Place on a baking sheet. Or, put beets into a covered casserole and add some water to cover the bottom of the dish. Bake until tender, the timing will depend on the size of the beets. When done, remove from oven, cool, then peel if you like and cut into wedges. For other roots, peel if needed, chop or slice, drizzle with some oil, and roast until tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, honey, mustard, olive oil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a small bowl or jar. Set aside.

3. When ready to assemble salad, put mizuna into a salad bowl. Add beets, gently tossing. Add dressing, enough to coat the vegetables. Toss again. Taste for seasonings. Sprinkle with feta cheese.