Saturday, December 10, 2005

Black Lentil Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Onions

Holiday season often rimes with potluck parties. We were invited to a very cool one yesterday night to celebrate winter and its many delights with our friends before everyone goes on vacation. Each of us was in charge of bringing a specialty from ones native region. The buffet was therefore composed of mexican guacamole, tunisian roasted vegetables, Provence wine and many more succulent dishes. Pierre and I opted for a lentil salad, in honor of our native city of Lyon, proud capital of gastronomy, although our salad ended up not being truely à la lyonnaise.
The proportions below are for a big, big potluck party salad that can serve 15+ people as an appetizer. It can be prepared one day in advance.

Lentil Salad:
  1. Rinse 1 pound black lentils in warm water.
  2. Coarsely chop 1 yellow onion.
  3. Peel 2 or 3 garlic cloves, cut in half and remove the stem.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large pan.
  5. Add the onion, garlic, 1 bay leaf and 1 branch fresh thyme. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat to soften without coloring.
  6. Add the lentils. Stir a little then add 1 bottle white wine (a light and dry one. Pino Griggio is perfect). There must be enough liquid to cover the lentils. Add water if necessary.
  7. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for about 45 minutes or until the lentils are soft and they have absorbed most of the liquid.
  8. In the meantime prepare a vinaigrette dressing with Dijon mustard (2 tbs), Jerez vinegar (spanish sherry vinegar, 2 tbs), olive oil (6 tbs), salt and pepper.
  9. Pour the vinaigrette on the lentils while warm to allow them to absorb the dressing's flavors.
  10. Add the roasted tomatoes and roasted onions (see recipes below) cut in large wedges (remove the rosemary, thyme and garlic from the tomatoes).
  11. Serve cool but not cold.

Roasted Tomatoes:
  1. Rinse 4 ripe tomatoes. Cut in half and remove the seeds with a teaspoon.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and let drain, face down on a paper towel, for about 10 minutes.
  3. Place the tomatoes face up on an oven-safe dish. Sprinkle with salt and thinly chopped garlic (2 cloves).
  4. Add fresh rosemary and thyme and a few drops olive oil.
  5. Bake at 330F for 45 minutes.
Roasted Onions:
  1. Rinse 2 yellow onions, whole with their skin.
  2. Place them on a metal dish (a cookie sheet for example).
  3. Bake them for 1 hour or until soft at 350F.
  4. Peel them once they have cooled down and cut into 6 or 8 wedges.

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