Eating In: Warm Lentil and Potato Salad

I wish I had more non-cooking posts for you for variety, but alas, I haven’t brought my camera to any restaurants lately and the office makeover (the only makeover on which any progress has been made, I’m currently knee-deep in some sort of plaster every weekend) is going terribly slowly. So, cooking posts you get since we have to eat (and let’s face it, we love to eat).

Our two main criteria these days are as follows: relatively healthy and relatively quick. Bonus points if it uses ingredients we already have in our kitchen, which you’ll see here – lentils and potatoes left over from two separate salad recipes I made for a Hollywood Bowl picnic (which I would have photographed if I wasn’t in such a terrible rush). Many thanks to Smitten Kitchen, one of my most-beloved food blogs, for the recipe (there’s a good cookbook associated with that blog too).

You start with lentils. You boil them. With other stuff. Lentils are good healthy fodder.

You follow with potatoes. You also boil them. Potatoes are also good fodder, if slightly less healthy because carbs. These are Yukon Golds.

If you’re me, you chop a bunch of things while the potatoes and lentils are cooking. If you’re not me, you have everything already chopped in beautiful mise-en-place. If you’re not me, you’re probably also confident in your spelling of mise-en-place. Here we have chopped garlic, scallions, gherkins, and capers.

You make a vinaigrette with all your chopped things (another hard-to-spell word…).

And then when everything is chopped and boiled and whisked and poached (oh, I threw a poached egg on top per Deb’s suggestion to make it feel more like dinner), you throw it all together and voila! A delicious and not too heavy potato salad.

Warm Lentil and Potato Salad
Adapted very slightly from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen
I made this for dinner one night when the Boy was out doing something, then ate the leftovers for lunch for the next couple of days cold (as did he, I think). They were still very tasty, though warm and topped with a poached egg (this being one of the most successful poached eggs OF MY LIFE) was my favorite version. Still, I love gherkins and capers and all things pickley, so generally this was bound to be a hit. With me. And hopefully with you. Go Smitten Kitchen!
Yield: 4 Servings
Ingredients
2 large shallots, 1 halved, 1 finely diced
4 sprigs of thyme
1 small bay leaf
1 cup lentils
1 small bay leaf
Salt and pepper
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (Deb uses fingerling)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons capers, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons cornichons or gherkins, roughly chopped
1 to 2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Directions
Place rinsed lentils in a medium saucepan with the halved shallot, thyme branches, bay leaf, some salt and 4 cups of water. Simmer the lentils over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until firm-tender. Drain (discarding shallot, thyme and bay leaf) and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, cover potatoes with 1 to 2 inches cold water. Set timer for 15 minutes, then bring potatoes to a simmer. When the timer rings, they should be easily pierced with a toothpick or knife. If not, cook a little longer. Drain and keep warm.
Make the dressing: Place the chopped shallot and red wine vinegar in the bottom of a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in minced garlic, dijon, a pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper and olive oil. Stir in chopped capers, cornichon and scallions.
Slice potatoes into 1/2-inch segments and place in serving bowl. Add lentils, dressing and all but 1 tablespoon parsley and combine. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if needed. Scatter salad with remaining parsley.
Serve with a soft-cooked egg on top, or as a side to a larger roast, chop or sausages. Reheat as needed. If you plan to make this at the outset of several meals and would like to eat it warm, I’d keep the dressing separate, warming only the lentils and potatoes and stirring in the cold dressing to taste. But it’s good cold too if you just want to mix in all the dressing!

Keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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