On a recent trip to the market, I discovered a new legume I’d never seen before: Ivory Lentils.
Gorgeous, aren’t they? So small and pearly, I just had to put them in my cart. I tend to be one of those MacGyver cooks—I like to buy new foods and see what I can make with them, so after flipping through some recipes and a stroll through the produce section, I came up with this recipe for a lovely, simple Ivory Lentil salad. It’s a perfect side for an outdoor picnic or a great light meal when it’s too hot to turn on your oven. Plus, these little babies pack a great nutritional punch. They’re a great source of iron, fiber and ¼ cup dry provides nine grams of protein!
A few quick words about ivory lentils: when you cook them, they can get soft and creamy, so for this salad, you want to make sure you don’t overcook them. I imagine if you stewed them, they’d fall apart the way yellow or red lentils do. Also, there’s no need to pre-soak them, because the cook time is so short. A nice washing will do. Also, you’ll want to start well ahead of time, to give the salad time to rest before you eat it. It’s fine right away, but it’s better if it sits. Trust me.
This recipe adapted from a version at Como Water by Tiffany Griffin
Ivory Lentil Salad (serves 4-6 as a side or 2-3 as a main)
1 cup ivory lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cumin
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
½ cup grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, or to taste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 clove minced garlic
Combine the lentils, water, onion, bay leaf, cumin, salt and pepper in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally and taste a lentil at the 15-minute mark to check for doneness. Remember, you want your lentils to hold their shape and texture. When lentils are cooked, drain and rinse with cool water. Remove onion and bay leaf.
For the dressing, combine the vinegars, orange juice and garlic in a bowl. With a fork or whisk, drizzle the olive oil in slowly until fully combined, but not to creamy. Taste, and add salt and pepper as necessary.
Prep your tomatoes and carrot. I used a vegetable peeler to make tasty carrot ribbons, but if you prefer to slice or grate your carrot. Combine carrots and tomatoes with lentils in a glass mixing bowl, and toss with dressing. Let salad rest a few minutes for flavors to mingle, or cover and refrigerate. Enjoy!
What I love about this kind of salad is how much you can switch it up. I imagine adding a chopped avocado to this, and my mouth waters. Maybe you want a Mexican flavor: add some oregano instead of thyme, and sub red wine vinegar for the white balsamic and add chili powder to the dressing. For carrots, sub yellow corn kernels, diced red pepper and red onion. Yum. To enjoy at your next barbecue, add a diced rib or two of celery, ½ cup thinly sliced Napa cabbage, and try dressing it with a few tablespoons of Green Goddess dressing. You can basically take this salad in any direction. Have fun experimenting with these beautiful little legumes!