What seems like an eternity – but was really only a week – of filling out and wrangling paperwork has kept me away from this place. It’s kept me away from the table…and the kitchen, for the most part. We’re making some big steps here in our lives, he and I, and all the introspection has had my mind elsewhere. Sheets and sheets of questions about yourself and your station in life are a bit grueling. Not just in the fact that they’re time consuming but they make you look at the answers you’re putting down. They make you look at how you got to the point you’re at. All that filling in the blanks makes you see all the progress you’ve made, question the choices you’ve made and – for me – be a tiny reminder of something that is missing in my life as a 34 year old person. That strained pause in my head when you have to answer the question, “Who is your emergency contact?”…and it’s not my mom or dad. In the end, though, it’s part of the process – the natural order of growing up – to get to this really joyful place we’re heading toward…and I can’t wait to share it with you all.
With all of the fuss and rushing around that we’ve experienced, along with 2 weeks of travel and work that I’m planning for, my mind is on simple food. As you’ve seen, I’ve kept up with the soup making. Outside of that, this quart of lentils has been staring at me behind our pantry door and I’ve finally given into their call. While I’d love to be in a mood to make something fussy and complicated with them…the truth is, I kind of just wanted lentil salad. Not so much even chopped up vegetables. Just lentils. A little shallot and some tangy vinaigrette. A few springs of something green. All scooped up with a piece of warm bread. For those vegetarians, this is a great meal all unto itself. Make it heartier by spooning it on some soft leaves of butter lettuce and adding on some wedges of soft boiled egg (if that fits into your diet). I’ve thrown some shavings of creamy smoked salmon on mine for a pescatarian version of this. The texture of the salmon with the lentils and the crunch of the pea shoots is extraordinary and makes a light, flavorful lunch.
Lentils Vinaigrette with Smoked Salmon – serves 2 as a light entree
– For the lentils: Place rinsed lentils and the bay leaf in a large saucepan. Add enough water to cover by about 2 inches – between 3-4 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes (this will depends on the freshness of your lentils). You want them cooked but not mushy. Once cooked, drain, removed the bay leaf and allow to cool slightly.
– While the lentils are cooking, combine the shallot, red wine vinegar, mustard and oil in a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine. Once the lentils have cooled just a bit but aren’t cold, add them to the vinaigrette and mix gently but thoroughly to combine. Taste and season with salt & pepper to your liking. Let them sit for 5 or 10 minutes at room temperature to soak up some of the dressing.
– To assemble, spoon a portion of the lentils onto a serving plate. Top with pieces of the smoked salmon and the greens of your choice. Serve immediately. If you are making this lentil salad to serve the next day, bring it up to close to room temperature so the dressing loosens up a bit and the flavors come out.