Lentil-potato salad

I often have a texture issue with pulses. They often are very mealy and mushy and icky. Part of that can be remedied by using the right pulses. The only lentil that works for me in non-soup/dhal dishes (for which I prefer orange lentils) is the black beluga lentil, because it stays whole during cooking and doesn’t get all mushy and starchy. Some people claim the same of puy lentils, but I really didn’t like those, so I stick with these. The other part of the remedy is making the correct dish. A bowl of plain lentils is boring, it needs something extra. This salad succeeds in that brilliantly, the creamy potato and sharp and tangy dressing complement the lentils perfectly, making this a delicious dish.

The temperature of this salad is kind of in between. The original recipe calls it “warm” and makes sure to keep the potato and lentils warm, but I don’t think that is necessary. Just make sure that your lentils and potatoes and dressing are ready at about the same time, mix them together and serve immediately. Also at room temperature I think this salad is lovely. The only things that don’t work are hot, and fridge-cold.

This salad is a delicious side with about anything. We ate it with a piece of salmon fillet, but it would also be delicious with roast chicken, pork chops or sausage. As with most things, a fried or poached egg on top is delicious; or chop some hard boiled eggs and stir them through, making it a stand-alone dish. It is also delicious as lunch, in that case store the dressing separate from the rest to prevent sogginess and making it possible to reheat the lentils and potato. It should keep for about 5 days in the fridge.

Lentil-Potato Salad (serves 4-6)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 large shallot, halved
1 clove garlic, crushed then halved
4 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry black lentils
salt and pepper

500 g baby potatoes, halved

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons sour gherkins, chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper

Cook lentils. Pick over and rinse lentils. Place them in a small/medium pan with the halved shallot, crushed garlic, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, some salt, some pepper and 4 cups of water. Simmer the lentils over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until firm-tender. Check earlier than that, because some lentils cook faster than others. Drain and discard shallot, garlic, thyme and bay leaf.
Meanwhile, cook potatoes. In a separate pan, cover potatoes with 3 cm 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. Again, check earlier than the 15 minutes, because different kinds of potatoes cook faster than others. Drain.
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, mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil. Stir in chopped gherkin and parsley.
Assemble salad. Place potatoes in serving bowl. Add lentils, dressing and combine. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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