I have made this salad multiple times in the past two years, but never managed to photograph it or blog about it - until now! Which is a shame, because it is so delicious and satisfying, and you could have been making it, too. I'm so sorry! But I'm sharing it with you now, and I hope that you know how serious I am about loving this salad, because I rarely ever make things more than once. I even bought pomegranate molasses for my parents so that I could make this for them!
Special thanks to Melissa at Smells Like Brownies, for making it with me again two years after our first time making it together so that we could photograph it.
First thing is first, you must cook some lentils! I use French lentils for pretty much everything because they retain their shape and texture. Plus, they are a pretty green.
Meanwhile - prep your other ingredients. Chop your vegetables: onion, garlic, bell peppers. I love how colorful the bell peppers are, and how pretty they make the salad. So buy one of those 3 packs that has red, yellow, and orange. It will make you so happy. We also had a little bit of a green pepper left over, so we threw that in.
Also use this time to rehydrate some sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water. The water will become infused with tomato flavor, and will later become part of the dressing - neat! Not pictured - toast some walnuts. It releases the oils and makes them so much more flavorful.
Time to saute those veggies - aren't they beautiful? Colorful food is happy food. But don't overcook them, you want them to still have a bit of crunch and vibrancy.
By now, your lentils should be done cooking. See how those French lentils don't become mushy? That is good - this salad is all about texture.
Time to make the dressing - the steeping liquid from the tomatoes, plus olive oil, lemon juice, and pomegranate molasses; along with lemon zest, parsley, and mint. What the heck is pomegranate molasses? It's a condiment you can find in Middle Eastern stores that is thick and sweet and tangy. It is key to the rich depth of flavor in this dish, so don't skip it!
So many beautiful components - yes, that is some Parmesan cheese in there - are you getting excited yet?
Texture ranging from soft to crunchy, tangy, salty, sweet, earthy, fresh, bright - this salad is everything. It is so filling, and so satisfying, and so healthy, and above all - delicious.
Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Herbs
adapted from the Kitchn
1 lb (about 2 1/4 cups) dry green French lentils
4 cups vegetable stock (you can also use chicken stock, or just water)
1/2 cup dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 bell peppers (multicolored), diced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 oz Parmesan, divided
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
fresh ground black pepper
Rinse the lentils well and add to a medium saucepan along with the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover the pot, cooking for about 25 to 30 minutes. Cooking time will vary according to freshness and age of the lentils. The lentils are done when they are tender, but not mushy.
Meanwhile, place the sun-dried tomatoes in a heatsafe container. Pour about 1/2 cup of boiling water over the tomatoes and set them aside to steep. Now is also a good time to toast the walnuts, if you haven't already.
Dice the onion and bell peppers, mince the garlic. Heat about 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the onion is just beginning to be translucent, but the peppers have not yet lost their snap or color. Mix the onion mixture with the lentils in a large bowl.
Drain the tomatoes (reserve about 1/4 cup of the steeping liquid), dice them, and them to the lentils along with the toasted walnuts, chopped parsley and mint, and the lemon zest. Grate in about 1 ounce of Parmesan cheese.
In a smaller bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, the 1/4 cup of steeping liquid from the sun-dried tomatoes, the lemon juice, and the pomegranate molasses. Toss this dressing with the lentils. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary (with more lemon juice or pomegranate molasses, for example). Stir in salt and pepper, and taste again for seasoning.
Serve topped with more grated Parmesan.