Lentil Salad

As promised, lentil salad. I found some puy lentils in the freezer that I only have vague memories of buying. I think I must have bought them for mujadarrah, which I love but which I only infrequently make. Anyway, since it's most definitely summer here already (we've had heat in the 90s), I want to focus on doing cool (as in temperature, not as in impressions) things with some of the grains in the house. Which leads me to salads. Aladdin, one of my favourite places in Houston, makes a fantastic lentil salad. But if I'm going there all the time for it, there is no way I'm going to stay within any approximation of a budget for eating this summer. So I decided to make a lentil salad. It's not the same as theirs by any stretch of the imagination, but it's similar in style. I think next time I will put carrots in it. I didn't have any carrots but I did have a massive pile of little tomatoes that came from the "garden," so I used those. You should feel free to modify this to use up whatever produce you have in your fridge. Also, if you don't have puy lentils (which tend to keep their shape well even when a bit overcooked), you can use other lentils but you will want to keep an eye on them while they're cooking to make sure they don't get mushy. This salad should have lentils that are slightly al dente. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup lentils (I used puy; you use what you have)
2 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 stalks celery, cleaned and diced
1 large tomato (or its equivalent in little tomatoes), diced
1-2 tablespoons finely minced onion


1 teaspoon each: sumac, aleppo pepper, dried mint (if you have fresh mint, which I don't, use a tablespoon chopped finely), salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup each: lemon juice, olive oil
1/2 - 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard (optional - I had the dregs of a little jar I wanted to use up so I shook up the dressing in this jar; if you don't want mustard in there, it's okay not to use it)

Combine salt, lentils and water. Simmer over medium heat 20-30 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and cool (or if you're lazy like me and needed to hop in the shower, cool then drain). Add celery, tomato and onion then fold to combine well. Shake, whisk or blend all the dressing's ingredients, then stir into salad. Chill well, then eat. Makes about 4 cups.


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