This Italian Lentil Salad, spooned generously over toasted crusty bread topped with melted fresh mozzarella, may have kept me alive last week. I kid you not. This meal is so incredibly hearty and delicious, it kept me going on the night that our furnace gave up the ghost and the temperature outside plunged to a bone-chilling 8° F (-13° C). Yup…Oh and the wind chill made it feel like 1°F (-17° C). Well, it didn’t get that cold here inside, but I was really freaking out that it would get just cold enough that all the pipes in the house would burst. Just two days before hand we had been dealing with a frozen sewer pipe. Needless to say, tension was running high around here that night. Luckily we had a gas fireplace in the living room that we were able to huddle around and big servings of Italian Lentil Salad which helped to not only warm us but to also fortify our souls for what further, yet unknown calamities were certainly lurking right around the frigid corner. And I should also mention that we had a big bottle of wine (or two) that perhaps helped to sooth our cold shattered nerves!
I am happy to report that not only did we survive the most recent arctic blast unscathed, but our pipes held out like champs! Normally a big fan of Winter, this Virginia winter has proven quite bizarre for me. We have endured multiple days of temperatures which were only able climb to a high of 20° F (-6° C), and you can imagine where they headed once the sun went down. However, even thought the temperatures are lingering in the polar vicinity, we haven’t had much snow (which I actually like), just the glacial cold. I was visiting Iceland in December and believe it or not, I feel I need to return if only to warm up! So it seems good old Virginia has become a land of the extremes; sweltering, miserable humid and sweaty summers followed up by bitter, raw Siberian winters. Hmmm….
That most famous of groundhogs, Punxsutawney Phil, is scheduled to make his yearly appearance on Sunday.
I never thought I’d say it, but I hope he does not see his shadow and Winter is over. I do declare that with some trepidation because even though it was cold, and I do mean somewhat glacial, without a furnace the other night, I was able to put on enough layers and pile on enough blankets that I was comfortable. If not for my extreme dread over burst pipes, all would have been well. However, it is often so hot here when it does deign to “warm up” that I can’t get comfortable, no matter how nekkid (that’s a word right?) I get.
Thinking back to those steamy Virginia summers, that is when I originally found this recipe on Pinch of Yum ( I did modify it somewhat). You see, I had planted an incredibly over active cherry tomato plant and was scouring the intertubes (my word for worldwide web) for recipes in which I could use my bumper crop. I made this salad quite a few times back then. Mind you, since we were at the opposite end on thermometer from where we are now, I served it cold, as a side salad, or sometimes over a bed of lettuce or if I was on the go, rolled it into a wrap. No matter which way I served it, it was absolutely delicious and refreshing. So, there you have it. This gem of a recipe is very versatile temperature wise and it certainly must be good for you, chock full of lentils, bulgur wheat and veggies as it is. No meat in sight. It will not only delightfully satisfy your hunger, but will also even allow you to feel somewhat virtuous as you tuck into a big plate of it. You really should add this one to your recipe box. You never know, it might just save your life!
Italian Lentil Salad
recipe adapted from: Pinch of Yum
yield: 8 – 10 servings
- 1 cup dry green (brown) lentils
- ½ cup dry light bulgur
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 3-4 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette
- 1/4 grated parmesan cheese
- handful of fresh basil, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh mozzarella, sliced
- toasted slices of crusty bread
Cook the lentils and the bulgur according to directions, using vegetable/chicken broth instead of water. When cooked, combine and set aside.
Saute the onion in the olive oil until it softens a bit and then add the tomatoes and garlic to the pan. Saute over low heat for 15 minutes or until the tomatoes and garlic are soft and fragrant. Remove from heat. Add the lentils, bulgur, basil and parmesan to the pan and stir to combine.
Season with dressing and salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold.
If serving over toasted bread, toast bread slices. Place slices of fresh mozzarella on toasted bread slices and stick under broiler until cheese is melted. Top bread slices with heaping spoonfuls of warm lentil salad.
P.S. Thanks to all you folks out there reading my blog! I have been at the food blogging thing for 3 years on February 1st and am so thankful anyone is actually paying attention! I hope I can continue to inspire you with my culinary adventures in the upcoming year.