This is a great recipe to make when you just don't feel like cooking anything complicated, or, better, are making a dish that will result in leftovers to take for lunch the next day. I love lentils. I feel they are the step-child of the vegetarian food world; I have no idea why. They are quick to prepare and full of fiber, iron and other nutrients. Sure, perhaps not the most attractive of colors, they can and should have a starring role in your meals. I hope you try these.
I love using lentils du pays because they offer a nice firm bite and really are quite pretty. If you only have regular brown lentils on hand, by all means, use them. This recipe is particularly pretty with little black beluga lentils, too.
Warm Lentil and Carrot Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
4 -6 servings
2 pounds carrots, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper
2 small onions, 1 halved, 1 finely diced
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 cups dry small green lentils (favorite is Lentils du pay, but you could use any you have on hand. You could definitely use any other color, too, just not the ones that are intended for dal.)
Salt and pepper
2 T capers
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced or smashed to a paste
2 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
1/4 cup of your favorite olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro (feel free to use parsley if you'd rather, or a combination of both)
Salt and pepper
Pick over and rinse lentils. Place lentils and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl. Cover with 4 cups warm water, and soak for 1 hour. Drain well. (Drained lentils can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before cooking.) The point of this brine is to reduce the number of lentils that explode during the cooking process. If you want to skip this step, please feel free.
Roast the carrots: Heat oven to 375. Line a baking pan with foil; set aside. Mound the carrots on the baking pan, and toss the carrots with paprika, cumin, cinnamon. Drizzle the carrots with olive oil. Toss again and then season with salt and pepper. Roast, stirring occasionally, 30 - 45 minutes, or until wrinkly and starting to brown in spots.
Meanwhile, cook the lentils: Drain the lentils in a colander. Place them in a small/medium saucepan with the halved onion, garlic, a pinch of salt and 4 cups of water. Simmer the lentils over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until firm-tender. Drain (discarding shallot and garlic, if you'd like, but it won't hurt anything to leave them there) and keep warm.
While the lentils and carrots are cooking, make your dressing: In a large bowl, place the diced onion and capers in a bowl with a bit of water; soak for 5 or 10 minutes. Drain well, and add red wine vinegar, dijon, cilantro, a pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper and olive oil.
To assemble: Once the carrots are roasted, and the lentils are cooked to your liking, add both to the dressing in the large bowl. Toss to mix well. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Serve either warm or room-temp.