Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lime lust - the continuing saga

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, limes.

The other lovely lime-drenched recipe I've added to my 'will make regularly, forever' list comes from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I was looking for a good wintery lunchtime salad - something that would fill me up without inducing sleepiness, which is kind of a problem for me. That snoozy, cozy feeling that creeps up after too much mid-day starch and when the office heating dial is turned up to 11...

Granted, I'm not working at the moment but hopefully I will be at some point (soon!), so I'm always on the hunt for new, easily transportable lunchbox fare that isn't just another boring sandwich again. This lentil salad recipe ticks all the boxes and makes enough to last several days. In fact, it's better after a day in the fridge, soaking in its punchy lime-cumin vinaigrette (which tastes great when you sop it up with a bit of crusty bread). And, it's easy to keep this dish from getting repetitive if you vary the added extras from day to day.

So, may I present a dish with an rather unwieldy title but more than enough zingy flavour and substance to keep you powering through till dinnertime with nary a snooze:

Lentil salad with roasted peppers, vegetable garnishes and lime-cumin vinaigrette adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Makes enough for 2 to 3 lunchboxes

For the lime-cumin vinaigrette, you'll need:

1 garlic clove, minced
grated zest of 2 limes
2 to 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons of finely chopped spring onion or shallot
1/2 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

1. Combine the garlic, lime zest, juice,, spring onion and chile in a bowl.

2. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small frying pan until fragrant, then immediately remove to a plate to cool. Grind to a powder in a spice mill, the add to the juice mixture.

3. Whisk in the oil. Taste and adjust as needed.

4. Let the dressing sit for at least 15 minutes and add the coriander just before using.

For the lentil salad, you'll need:

1/2 cup of Puy lentils
salt and pepper
2 red or yellow bell peppers, roasted and chopped
lime-cumin vinaigrette (see above)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped mint
2 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and quartered

Possible extras
: feta, hard-boiled eggs, olives, cucumber

1. Cover the lentils with water in a small saucepan, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until tender but still a little firm - about 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Drain the lentils and toss them while still warm with the peppers, tomatoes, half of the vinaigrette, parsley and mint. Taste and adjust seasoning.

3. Mound the lentils in a platter (or a lovely tupperware box, if taking to work) and garnish with any of the suggested extras above. Or whatever takes your fancy, really!

Cook's notes

Once again, I prefer to use a higher ratio of herbs and veggies to main salad ingredient. There's nothing worse than only finding a few measley bits of roasted pepper in a sea of lentils. Why would you want that? So I've halved the amount of lentils Deborah suggested but pretty much kept the rest of the recipe the same as hers.

Except for the dill. I left that out because it's not my favourite and there's enough herby stuff going on in the recipe that I don't think anyone would miss it greatly. However, if dill is your thing then add 2 tablespoons at stage 2, along with the parsley and mint.

And, of course, because I only used half the amount of lentils, it follows that I just used half of the vinaigrette. Next time I might reduce the oil content of the dressing a bit more as there was already quite a bit on the roasted peppers. But that's a small quibble and doesn't take away from the general tastiness of this dish.

Oh yes - I left out the 1/4 teaspoon of dry mustard specified for the vinaigrette because I didn't have any. Didn't miss it.

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