It's finally spring here in Michigan. Yesterday was lovely, and today is looking like it's going to be even better. Unfortunately I'm working this weekend, but hopefully I'll get out in time to enjoy a little of the beautiful sunshine. During the winter and early spring, before any spring produce has hit the farmer's market, my quick meal repertoire is full of grains, legumes and roasted veggies. I never get tired of any combination of these things. There are endless possibilities, different combinations of these various components as well as different spices, sauces, and other add-ins. It's really almost impossible to go wrong. Some might turn out a little better than others, but I'm always happy with the end result.
I usually just find myself throwing a bunch of things together depending on what's in my fridge at the moment. For this recipe however, I actually did follow a recipe from the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi with just a few minor adaptations. I love his recipes and so wanted to actually follow one of them fairly closely to see his magic at work. I find that when I just do my own thing I can get stuck in a rut of the same flavor combinations, or at least very similar combinations of ingredients. Deferring to someone else from time to time can help inspire me to try out something new.
I kept this recipe pretty true to the original. I didn't have chives so used green onion instead. Added a bit of lemon zest at the very end to perk things up a bit, add a little brightness. I also used pomegranate vinegar instead of balsamic vinegar because I don't have any balsamic right now. This is a light and fresh salad; delicious, simple, healthy. Really exactly what I love. The sweetness of the tomatoes pairs perfectly with the creamy Gorgonzola and sharpness of the red onion. All the herbs really amp up the flavor adding even more freshness.
There are endless variations are possible on this basic theme. I would keep the tomatoes, onions and obviously the lentils, but could change up the cheese to anything nice and creamy, and can swap out the herbs for your favorite herb or whatever you have on hand. Add some spices, sauce, more roasted veggies. To really make it a filling meal you could add some chicken, or tofu on top depending on your preference. It could all go on top of a bed of greens as well to bulk it up and turn into more of a green salad. All wonderful, and I'm sure delicious, ideas.
Lentil Salad with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
- 3 plum tomatoes
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate or balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup (120 grams) French lentils
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove, crush
- black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped green onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill
- 1 1/2 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled
- lemon zest (optional)
To make the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Quarter the tomatoes vertically and place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top of them. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for 1 1/2 hours, or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the vinegar and sprinkle with the sea salt. Stir, then leave for a few minutes so the onion softens a big.
Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 1 1/4 inches above the lentils) and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a sieve and, while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Also add the olive oi, garlic and some black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust seasoning.
To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the Gorgonzola and tomatoes as you build up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top and serve.