I’ve never been a lentil fan, but I’m determined to start liking them. As with beans, I’ve been turned off by their grainy and sometimes mushy texture. But, as with getting kids to like veggies, you just have to keep exposing yourself to a food to find an affinity for it. I thought that with the right combination of ingredients, these beautiful lentils could be delicious.
So, as I said, this recipe was a hodge podge of ingredients I thought would taste good together, though I did use the NYTimes author Martha Rose Shulman’s book “The Very Best of Recipes for Health” for cooking instructions on the lentils. I followed the instructions line by line but felt it led to over-cooked lentils that fell apart. I’d recommend reducing the cook time for future trials.
1 cup French lentils
2 garlic cloves, gently crushed (still whole)
2 Bay leaves
1 medium onion
4 cups sweet potatoes
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
6 Tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing the pan
1 shallot, minced
1. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into evenly-sized cups, about 4 cups. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet and roast the sweet potatoes in a 400-degree oven for 2o minutes, until tender.
2. Combine the lentils, onion, garlic, and bay leaves in a large pot. Add water to cover the lentils by 1.5 inches and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Allow the lentils to cook for about 20 minutes (or longer, if needed) so the lentils are tender but not mushy or falling apart. Drain the lentils, but reserve the cooking liquid. Discard the onion, bay leaves, and garlic.
3. When the potatoes are roasted, remove them from the oven and transfer to a bowl. Toast the pecans or walnuts in the oil from the potatoes, still at 400, for about 5-10 minutes. The nuts should give off a nutty aroma, but shouldn’t blacken.
4. To make the dressing whisk the olive oil, vinegar, and shallot together in a small bowl.
5. Combine the lentils, dressing, potatoes, and nuts together in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add the reserved cooking water if the salad seems dry.