I have only come to love lentils quite recently. For a long time, I unfairly associated them with poverty-stricken student housing days, and Neil from "The Young Ones" (yes the 80s is still quite fresh in my mind). A stodgy, tasteless, boring mass that needed something /anything to give them a bit of flavour and interest. A year or so ago, I discovered how good they can be with a Bill Granger salad that matched green lentils with beetroot, goats cheese and asparagus (you have to trust me that it works), and I now find myself drawn to exploring more and more lentil recipes. Good for the health and the wallet.
This lentil salad comes from Belinda Jeffrey's "100 Favourite Recipes", and is completely more-ish. Whenever I make it, I find it hard not to keep nibbling. The currants and capers work wonderfully together, giving a hit of both sweet and salty, while the spices lend some warm background tastes. Even better, this salad will keep well in the fridge for more than a week, making it perfect for leftover lunches or encore performances.
Spicy Red Lentils With Capers and Currants
adapted from "100 Favourite Recipes" by Belinda Jeffrey
400g dried red lentils
1/4 cup capers
1/4 red onion, slivered
125ml good olive oil
2 tbl red wine vinegar
1 tbl sugar
1 tsp sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
sprinkling of nutmeg to tatse
Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl, and whisk until they are combined.
Tip lentils into a sieve and check for any small stones or dark lentils. Run the lentils in the sieve under a tap until the water coming through the lentils is clear. Tip the lentils into a saucepan of boiling water. Stir them well and allow to boil for a couple of minutes, until they are just tender. (You are looking for an al dente slight firmness). As soon as they are ready, tip them back into the sieve to drain, shaking out all excess water.
Toss the cooked, warm lentils in the dressing. Add the capers and currants, and leave the salad to cool, stirring regularly. Mix in the onion just before serving. This salad can be eaten warm or cold.