300g French style green lentils
125ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
120g raw walnuts, almonds, or pecans, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane or chopped as fine as possible
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
80ml cup red or white wine vinegar OR the juice of a large lemon
50g cup currants
1 bunch (30-40g) basil leaves
Salt and pep
100g block feta cheese cut into large 1/2cm planks – you can use a vegan feta here, or omit it all together!
We’d never thought to marry French style lentils with a whole bunch of basil, but turns out they’re a hot couple! This salad feels like a good bridge to autumn, there’s the crunchy nuts, sweet currants, mellow lentils and bright zingy basil and feta. Enjoy!
Marinated Lentil Salad
Cook the lentils:
Bring a medium saucepan filled with 2 litres water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil. Add lentils, give them a good stir, and return the water to a simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a simmer while they cook. Simmer until they are cooked through and no longer toothsome but not mushy, 15 to 35 minutes, depending on what type of lentils you have and how old they are. Taste them periodically to evaluate their doneness before draining them.
Drain the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer and let them cool in the strainer while you prepare the walnut dressing. Reserve the saucepan.
Make the spiced walnut oil:
In the reserved saucepan, combine olive oil and the chopped walnuts and cook over medium-low heat, swirling the pan often so that they cook evenly, until golden brown, 4-8 minutes. Keep an eye on them, as they can turn from toasty to burnt pretty quickly. Remove from the heat.
Add cumin seeds and ground coriander and stir to combine. Add garlic cloves into the still-hot oil; stir to combine. Stir in currants, red wine vinegar, and salt.
Dress the lentils:
Add the drained lentils back to the medium saucepan with the walnut mixture and gently stir everything to combine. Add basil leaves and toss them through. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Divide the lentils among 4 serving bowls. Top each with a few feta planks and black pepper and drizzle with more olive oil.
Hot tip: We ate the leftovers of this salad with some added roast eggplant, avocado and chopped dill – it was FAB!
Recipe by Molly Baz