Black Lentil & Peach Salad

Black Lentil & Peach Salad
I have a shelf in my pantry that’s all beans, grains and pulses. Some are in jars, and others are in bags—all competing for my cooking attention. This stash is my safety net. When there’s a night I can’t come up with dinner or a morning when I’m scrambling to put together a nutritious lunch before I dash out to work, these ingredients are the foundation for a meal.

Lentils have a permanent spot on that shelf. I usually save them for soups, but in May I went to a dinner hosted by at the restaurant Bad Hunter in Chicago that featured lentils in ways I hadn’t ever thought about them. Chef Dan Snowden even ground lentils into flour to make red lentil crepes. It was a fun evening hanging out with other food bloggers and being inspired by lentils.

Back in my kitchen, I gave lentils the summer treatment and used them in a salad with a few of my favorite seasonal ingredients. Lentils are high in protein and a good source of fiber, so they add substance to a plate of greens. I made a black lentil & peach salad with arugula and fresh mozzarella. The lentils were ready in 20 minutes—no pre-soaking required. I finished off the salad with white balsamic vinaigrette.

Black Lentil & Peach Salad
Black Lentil & Peach Salad

Serves 4-6

6-8 slices thick country bread, torn into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4  cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup black lentils, rinsed
1 cup water
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
5 ounces baby arugula
2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons minced chives

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Toss the bread, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper on a sheet pan and spread into a single layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes until toasted and golden brown.

Combine the lentils and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are tender. Transfer to a strainer and rinse with cold water. Put the lentils in large bowl and stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt.

For the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, combine the white balsamic vinegar, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil until fully combined.

Combine the toasted bread, arugula, peaches, tomatoes, mozzarella and chives in the bowl with the lentils. Divide the salad between the serving dishes and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

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