When I was very young, my mother transformed herself into a new age bohemian – very different to the Eastern European kind. Our diet was probably one of the last things to fall under the spell of enlightenment, but when it did, we found ourselves eating all kinds of ingredients long before anyone else thought they were edible. Our household said goodbye to so many delicious necessities: fresh milk, butter, chocolate, red meat, sugar… the list goes on. In their place we had powdered skim milk, cold pressed sunflower oil, sunflower seeds and pepitas, soy beans, chickpeas, honey… the new list goes on too. And of course no alternative kitchen is complete without large bags of lentils in its pantry! For a long time I really hated lentils, especially the green ones. Every night for years one member of our household, I will call him Swami, boiled lentils. Plain boiled green lentils; no herbs, no spices, no salt, no anything at all to make them remotely appealing. And every night this tasteless sploge of lentils would be dumped onto the top of Swami’s equally uninteresting salad and chomped down while standing at the kitchen counter. It was hard to bear, even when you didn’t have to share.
So after moving out of home I abandonned the mighty healthy but more mightily unappetising lentil. It was many years before I could contemplate them again, and I am not quite sure how it happened, but lentils have found their way back to my table. The thing is, you have to treat them right to make them taste good. A couple of key points about lentils: 1. don’t over cook them, they are not good as mash, and 2. they need herbs and or spice, desperately. My current favourite lentil recipe is this salad. It is surprisingly light.
- 1 1/2 c dried green lentils, boiled til just soft (strain immediately)
- 3/4 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 medium red capsicum, finely chopped
- 1 stick celery, finely chopped
- 1 bunch continental parsley, chopped
- 2 T balsamic vinegar
- 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 T macadamia or avocado oil
- 1/4 t cumin
- salt to taste
Mix all ingredients together.