Warm Green Lentil Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

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I have cooked brown lentils in one of our favorite soups for many years.  When I was experimenting with various Indian foods, I used different colors and kinds of lentils, even grinding them once to make a lentil flour in my attempt to make a good masala dosa.  But when I saw this recipe a few months ago on one of my favorite blogs I knew I wanted to try Green Lentils! These tiny dark green lentils are harder to find, but Whole Foods has them in their bulk food section.

Another attraction to the recipe posted in http://www.backroadjournal.wordpress.com was its billing as a French Bistro meal.  For that recipe, spicy lamb sausages called Merguez  were used, but I used what I could find, which was a lovely Italian spicy sausage.  So maybe my version of the salad is an Italian bistro meal!  Serve with a crusty loaf of bread.  Leftovers can be eaten cold (the flavors have already been soaked up in the lentils and vegetables) or warmed.

Warm Lentil Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

4 servings, or 2 generous ones!

Shallot Vinaigrette

2  Tbsp. of either sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

pinch of sea salt (about 1/8 tsp.

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. finely minced shallot

2 tsp.Dijon mustard

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Mix vinegar, salt, pepper and the minced shallot.. Let sit for about 5 minutes to soften shallots. Stir in the mustard, then whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream. Taste and adjust for more oil or more vinegar, salt or mustard if needed.

Lentil Salad

1 or 2 spicy sausages, sliced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 large onion, diced

1 stalk of celery, diced

1/2 small bulb of fennel, diced (optional)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3/4 cup green Lentils de Puy, rinsed well

2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon dried French Thyme (I use Penzey’s)

1 bay leaf

1 potato (I used Yukon Gold), peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced (here I used a lovely yellow carrot from the Farmer’s Market)

salt and pepper, to taste

fresh chopped thyme or parsley for garnish if you wish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the sausages and brown until they are a little crispy. Remove from the pan and keep warm. In the same saucepan, add the onions, celery and fennel, sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add the lentils, and broth to cover by about 2 inches. Add thyme, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high, bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Partially cover the pan with a lid and simmer the lentils until they are just tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the diced potatoes and carrots with cold, salted water. Cook over moderately high heat until the potatoes and carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well and place in a large bowl, toss with a little of the vinaigrette.

When the lentils are done, drain well, place in the bowl with the cooked potatoes and carrots. Discard the bay leaf. Add the rest of the vinaigrette and toss well. Let sit for a few minutes until the vinaigrette is absorbed, taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. If the lentils seem dry, you can drizzle with a little olive oil. To serve, transfer the lentils to individual plates or bowls and top with the sausages.

Be sure to add the vinaigrette while the lentils and vegetables are hot so that they can absorb all the flavors.

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