So, did you stuff yourself silly with cheese balls, sausage balls, meatballs and bourbon balls?
Me too! Since the last time we talked, it’s been a never-ending feast around here. Next year, I think I’ll walk around all holiday season a la the Ghost of Christmas Present, wearing a red velvet Snuggie™ and a holly wreath crown trimmed with Chex Mix® and chocolate-covered cherries.
After all of that glorious excess, my pendulum is swinging back toward lighter, fresher foods, and this Lentil Salad, a pimped-out variation on Alice Waters’ original, is hitting the spot nicely. And I just learned that, in Italy and Hungary, it’s traditional to eat lentils on New Year’s Day for luck and prosperity, since the lentils are round like coins. I think I’ll have an extra spoonful.
The prep is simple: Bring the lentils to a boil, simmer them until they’re tender, and toss them with red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Then, add extra-virgin olive oil, scallions and parsley. Stop there, and you’ll have Ms. Waters’ version.
Or, you can make this salad your own by adding diced cucumber or tomato, chopped peppers, a small handful of feta cheese, a squeeze of lemon juice, a little shredded carrot – whatever you like. It’s especially good scooped up with ripped pieces of flatbread. And if you’re really feeling hungry, add a side of couscous with roasted vegetables and feta.
Now, cawnfayuss: What was the yummiest, most ridiculously decadent thing you had to eat over the holidays? My favorite was Mom’s coconut cake, but then there was also this spicy cheese dip loaded with sausage and habaneros and beans, standing rib roast, hashbrown casserole and Jeff’s aunt Debbie’s sausage bread. Sausage. Bread. The most wonderful time of the year, indeed.
Adapted from Alice Waters’ “The Art of Simple Food”
- 1 cup lentils
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions or 3 tablespoons finely diced shallot
- 3 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Sort and rinse lentils. Place them in a large saucepan, cover them with water by 3 inches, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, and reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
- Transfer the lentils to a large bowl, and toss them with vinegar, salt and pepper. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt and vinegar, if needed.
- Add olive oil, scallions or shallot, and parsley. Stir to combine. If the lentils seem dry, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.
Nutritional Information (Per Serving) – calories: 155, fat: 11g, carbs: 10.6g, fiber: 4g, protein: 4.7g, PP+ = 6
- 1/2 diced cucumber
- 1 or 2 seeded tomatoes, diced
- Dice 1/4 cup each carrot, celery and onion. Cook until tender in a couple spoonfuls of olive oil. Cool and stir into salad instead of scallions.
- Garnish with 1/2 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese.
- Toast and crush 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, and add to salad. Replace parsley with cilantro.
- Dice 1/4 cup sweet peppers, season with salt, and let stand to soften. Stir in with scallions or shallots.