Saturday, April 6, 2013

Lentil and Chickpea Salad with Feta and Tahini (from A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield and Smitten Kitchen)

Lentil and Chickpea Salad with Feta and Tahini and baked yam

By now you know we have been following a ‘vegan at home’ diet and as a result, most of the web based recipe blogs that I read are now vegetable and vegan based.  One of my favorite blogs in the has been ‘SmittenKitchen’ by Deb Perelman and even though she cooks with meat, I still read her blog regularly and can often adapt her recipes to fit our diet.  This recipe is originally from April Bloomfield’s ' A Girl and Her Pig' but I found it on Smitten Kitchen.  I did make a slight change to the recipe.  I used all the toasted and ground spices even though the original recipe only calls for 1 teaspoon of the combined spices.  I have found with other recipes that I like bold spice flavors and often add more spice than called for.  With this recipe I bought new containers of both coriander and cumin seeds for the freshest flavors.  My tasting partner had an interesting reaction to this meal.  When he saw it plated up, he made a sad face and said ‘‘this is it?’’ and I was tempted to respond “yes, that’s what you get when you eat a vegan diet” but I didn't, I said nothing.  He then tasted it and said “wow, this is fabulous and the baked yam is a wonderful complement”.  I did serve this lentil and chickpea salad with a baked yam and it was delicious.  It does take time to prepare, but it is well worth the effort. 

recipe after the jump

Lentil and Chickpea Salad with Feta and Tahini 

Scant 1 cup dried lentils (Puy or Casteluccio) lentils, picked and rinsed over
2 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
2 fresh sage sprigs
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the dressing and salad
1 very small red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
A handful of flat-leaf parsley sprigs, chopped
2 pinches of flaky sea salt (less if using Kosher salt and much less for table salt)

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground**
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground**

1/2 large garlic clove
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (less if using Kosher salt and much less for table salt)
2 tablespoons well-stirred tahini paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste

1 and 3/4 cups drained chickpeas (from a 15-ounce can)
1/2 small preserved lemon, pith and flesh discarded, rind finely diced
1/4 cup feta (optional)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan until a shade or two darker

Make the lentils: 
Put the lentils, garlic, sage, and olive oil in a small pot, along with 2 cups cold water, and set it over medium heat. Let the water come to a simmer (not boiling), then turn the heat to low and cook the lentils in a very gentle simmer just until they are tender, about 30 minutes.  You may have to add a touch more water to finish cooking.  Take the pan off the heat and let the lentils cool a bit before draining them. Pick out and discard the sage and garlic. You’ll have about 2 cups cooked lentils.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the onions: 
Place onion slices in a medium bowl and break them up with your fingers. Sprinkle in two good pinches of salt, then two teaspoons of lemon juice, two remaining teaspoons of olive oil and the cilantro or parsley. Toss well.

Make the Tahini dressing: 
Mix together the ground coriander and cumin in a small bowl. Mash the garlic clove to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt (use half as much Kosher salt, even less table salt) on a cutting board or in a mortar. In a small bowl for your dressing, combined the mashed garlic, tahini, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, all of the ground coriander-and-cumin mixture and 2 tablespoons water. Stir well, then taste. Add more lemon if desired.

Toss the drained lentils with the drained chickpeas, preserved lemon rind in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the tahini dressing and toss it all together really well, then stir in the onion mixture.

Arrange the salad in bowl or platter. Sprinkle the mixture with the sesame seeds and top with feta, if using.

** To toast and grind spices: Put the spices, one at a time, in a small dry pan over medium-high heat. Toast, shaking the pan frequently, until the spices become very sweet and fragrant, anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes. Let them cool in a bowl or on a small plate and grind in a mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder.

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