Lentils make a delightful salad, especially in late winter or early spring, when the first bitter greens and young onions are sprouting. Dressed with the finest dark green olive oil and a spritz of lemon juice, lentils have an earthy sweetness that offsets the assertive flavors of early greens and turns them into a protein-rich first course or a main course when accompanied by good crusty bread and a wedge of cheese. Use prepared lentils, or cook your own.
2 cups cooked lentils, (use brown or green) 1 small onion, peeled 1 garlic clove, peeled 1 bayleaf salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1 cup pitted imported green olives, coarsely chopped 1 red bell pepper, cut into long thin strips 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 3 T fresh lemon juice bitter greens such as arugula, chicory, frisee, radicchio, or tender dandelions zest of 1/2 lemon, cut into fine julienne strips 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
PICK the lentils over carefully to get rid of any small stones or pieces of grit.
RINSE them under running water. Place in saucepan over medium heat with the cool water. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, turn down the heat, cover saucepan and simmer for about 30 minutes - or until the lentils are cooked and tender. (Time varies even more with lentils than other legumes, depending on the age of the lentils).
WHEN the lentils are done, drain them, discarding the cooking vegetables, and mix while still warm with the olives, red peppers, olive oil, and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve piled on a bed of bitter greens. Garnish with the julienne strips of lemon and minced parsley.