There’s a great salad near the beginning of Jerusalem that uses green and yellow beans with capers, red peppers, and loads of garlic. This is basically that with a stripped-down dressing and loads of lentils.
Why? Because I wanted something more substantial to go with the lamb and lemon stew, and because lentils are bloody marvellous. Especially puy lentils – the earthy taste and mottled colour is just the best.
- Green beans
- Red peppers
- Puy lentils
- An onion
- Fresh coriander
- Coriander seeds
- Veg stock
Top and tail the beans. Blanch them for a couple of minutes until softening but still with some bite. Refresh in cold water, drain them, and put to one side.
Slice the peppers (I used two) into strips. Cut the onion into slivers, and put them in a hot oven, tossed in a little oil. Cook until soft but not mushy.
Meanwhile, cook the lentils – about 200g for a substantial salad, maybe less. I tend to rinse them a bit first. Bring them to the boil in plenty of water. Skim off any grey foam, and add stock. I use the Marigold powder, so just whacking in a teaspoon at this point works well. Throw in a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of whole coriander seeds, and simmer the lentils for 20-30 minutes. Like the veg, they want to be cooked, but to retain some bite and body. Also like the veg, drain, refresh, and put to one side.
Thinly slice some more garlic, and fry it low and gentle in plenty of olive oil. It wants to barely colour. Stir in a teaspoon or so of rinsed capers, cook for a minute, and pour the mix, oil and all, over everything else. Toss it together with some shredded coriander, and you’re done.
The colours here are great – rich greens with a little red poking through. It just looks like spring food. The earthiness of the lentils works well with the beans, though the sweetness of the peppers could get a little lost. I’d be tempted to add some more spices at the garlic cooking stage. The original has lemon zest, which would work well; I omitted it so as not to over-do the lemon across the meal.
This would make a fine – and probably substantial – lunch on its own, or goes well on the side of something simple. I suppose you could turn it into a bruschetta topping, too. Actually, this would be great with some char-grilled merguez sausages, or a pork chop.
A note on waste/leftovers
When you strain the lentils, you’re throwing away what turns out to be quite a tasty soup base. It’s veg stock, garlic, coriander and a bit of cooked-down lentil. I couldn’t quite bring myself to tip it down the sink, so I used it to cook some more lentils and a little leftover lamb as a thick, sturdy broth. I’d heartily recommend doing something similar.