Spanish Lentil Salad (vegan option)
The Spanish are so good at meals for hot weather, they have to be. When we’re in a heatwave here in Blighty, we crave cooling but nourishing dishes, and can do no better than to take a lesson from our Spanish cousins.
Lentil salad is a quiet classic. Easy to make, keeps in the fridge for days, goes with just about anything, and you can eat it on its own or put a boiled egg on top for an extra bit of excitement. Perfect for lunchboxes and relaxed lunches alike. This salad has the taste of Spain in a subtle way – the dressing contains pimento pepper, which is like paprika, and cumin for that very slightly Arabic edge. It’s not spicy, but if you want to spice it up a bit you could certainly add some sliced chilli to the vegetables or a teaspoon of chilli to the dressing. I adapted the recipe from SpanishSabores.com who have a whole host of inspiring Spanish recipes on line but I was really trying to re-create the dish I had at Finca el Cerillo in the hills above Malaga and I think I’ve got the essence of it here.
You could add some feta cheese, or some other herbs. If you add tomatoes, then it won’t keep as long because of the additional juice, but they are very pleasant in the salad too.
Serves 8 as part of a selection of salads Timings: 1 hour
Put the lentils and the lentil vegetables on to boil in a large pan – about 2cm of water covering the top of the lentils. Bring to the boil and simmer while you grill the peppers. Simmer the lentils for about 15 minutes, then check – they should be just done, with a bit of texture to them. Test them and give them another 5 minutes if you think they aren’t done enough but be careful, you don’t want to overcook. When they’re done, drain in a sieve and leave to cool down. Remove the vegetables that were boiled with the lentils.
While the lentil simmer, put the peppers on a tray under a hot grill and keep turning them as the skin blisters and blackens. When they are blackened on all sides, put them straight into a glass bowl with a plate on top. (Much better than the old method of putting grilled peppers in a plastic bag – we now know that we’d rather not have plastic touching hot food.) Give them 10 minutes to collapse and cool down while you make the dressing.
To make the dressing: shake all the ingredients together in a jar, and taste. Adjust the seasoning, you might need more salt or lemon juice or honey.
Go back to the peppers and now you can peel them easily, scraping away the skin from the flesh and discarding the insides and the seeds. Chop the flesh of the peppers into small dice.
Clean and chop the other fresh vegetables and then mix everything together.
Chill in the fridge for at least an hour or better 3 hours before serving.
Keeps for several days in a sealed container in the fridge.
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