A Summer Picnic – Curried Lentil Salad with Currants
Dustin and I had the wonderful pleasure of joining a friend of ours on her birthday celebration at a local vineyard this past Saturday. We were fortunate to be invited to take a tour of the wine storage and bottling facilities and I was extremely impressed by the caliber of this small vineyard located in the middle of Tennessee. As part of her birthday celebration our friend, Tarjani, planned a pot luck style picnic. As soon as I heard about the picnic I immediately set about musing as to what to bring. One of my favorite all time recipes came to mind quickly.
This recipe comes from a blog I often read called “My New Roots” which focuses on healthy and nutritional recipes. This lentil salad has fantastic earthy flavors. The curry powder adds spice and intrigue to the creamy lentils while the capers and currents play off of each other to add both salty and sweet flavors to the dish. The salad is then tossed in an interesting dressing composed of mustard, cider vinegar, and maple syrup. It was a big hit at the picnic and really an easy recipe to toss together.
I use Du Puy Lentils in this recipe as they tend to hold together well after cooking and don’t get mushy like other lentil varieties. I have added celery to the initial dish as I think it adds a nice fresh crunch and some bright herbaceous flavoring to the dish – feel free to use the inner stalks and light yellow and green celery leaves for this dish as well! The celery should be diced to match the size of your onions. I have also added red bell peppers to this recipe before with great success, but they are a bit of a pain to dice so I omitted them this time.
In terms of Curry Powder, I use a basic curry powder blend that I purchased from Penzy’s spices. I highly recommend sourcing a nice fragrant curry powder like this one for the dish. Many Indian and Super Market varieties are harsh and bitter but the Penzy’s curry is amazingly mild and balanced.
The success of this dish really rests on how cooked the lentils become. If they are undercooked they will taste raw and crunchy. Overcooking the small pulse will bring down the flavors of the dish and diminish the lentils integrity. Even du puy lentils, when overcooked, turn to mush. Feel free to make your mark on this dish by adding ingredients you love. Nuts would be a great addition, as well as crumbled feta or chevre. The salad makes a great side dish for salmon or steak and is also phenomenal served over arugula.
Curried Lentil Salad with Currants
Adapted from My New Roots
2 ¼ Cups (1 lb.) Du Puy lentils
1 Medium Red Onion Diced
1/2 Cup Dried Currants
1/3 Cup Capers
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
1 1/2 TBSP Maple Syrup
1 TBSP Grainy Dijon Mustard
2 TSP Kosher Salt
2 TSP Freshly Ground Pepper
1 TBSP Curry Powder
Rinse lentils and place them in a medium sauce pan. Cover with 3 inches of water and ring pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 12-17 mins or until lentils are JUST tender.When finished drain lentils and run them under cold water to cool. Drain and dry well.
In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, syrup, S&P, and curry.
In a large bowl mix together lentils, onions, currants and capers. Lightly dress with vinaigrette and mix gently.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve and enjoy!