I heart me some LENTILS! Mmmm mmmm. They don't last long around here, and whenever I make a trip to the Foreign Buyers' Club out on Rokko Island (a manmade island about 30 minutes from here, built during the bubble), they're the first thing I head for. Lentils are my babies. (Oh goodness, Matthew and Joel (my two little beans) might not agree with that!)
Anyway, I grew up with lentil stew as a staple in our pre-trendy organic household. My mom had read a lot about nutrition, and you know what, when she took us completely off sugar, our ear infections went away! We ate pizza made with wholewheat crusts, cakes baked with carob, and loads of legumes. Yummy. At the time, I was just jealous of my friends who were allowed to eat junky tasteless birthday cake, but alas, the grass is always greener...now I'm glad that's what I grew up with (I only ever had one cavity, and that came after we started eating a bit junkier when I was in middle school and Mom went back to work).
This lentil salad is yummers - you gotta try it. A Canadian/American friend of mine here in Japan, Sarah, loaned me some magazines and didn't mind if I cut out the page with this recipe (a true friend!), but I cut it down to tape it in one of my books and I sliced off the name of the magazine. Maybe she remembers which one it was, but for the life of me, I'm at a loss.
It's better if you make it ahead of time and let it all marinate in the fridge for a day or so first (adding the tomatoes and mint at the last minute so they don't get sludgy).
Combine 4 cups water with 1 cup lentils (I used 3 cups water, though). Boil for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer until tender but still firm, about 15-20 minutes. Don't add any salt to the water because it will make the lentils tough. (I didn't know this for all my lentil recipes I've made in the past - I always added salt right at the beginning - but it really does make a difference.)
Stir in a couple of tablespoons of regular vinegar into the lentils and chill them till cold.
Make a vinaigrette with 1 T balsamic vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic, 2 T olive oil, then salt and pepper.
Toss the lentils with the dressing and add some cooked chickpeas, some halved baby tomatoes (I used red and yellow), and chopped red onion (which is really purple according to my eyes, but who am I to be semantic). Toss with fresh arugula or baby spinach (didn't have so didn't use). Top with crumbled feta (didn't have - too expensive in Japan) and some mint.
And now go knock your taste buds' socks off (if they wear socks - mine like to be barefoot, actually - you know, the hippy type)!