Like most people I talk to, I’ve been trying to work my way through my super-stocked pantry and freezer. Last week a couple days before I went shopping, I took a look around my kitchen for any items on hand that would make a decent lunch. I found a bag of Pardina lentils tucked away in the back of the pantry, and some kale and a couple green apples in the fridge. I also grabbed an onion from the pantry, and along with a flavorful dressing made from basic fridge staples, it was an easy, delicious meal.
If you’re not familiar with them, Pardina lentils are also called Spanish brown lentils, and they are a bit smaller than other green or brown lentils. They hold their shape well when cooked so they’re great for a salad, not to mention their lovely nutty flavor. Of course you could substitute another type of lentil if you want, but the flavor will change a bit; also, be sure you adjust the cooking time, since most varieties cook faster than the Pardina variety (even though Pardina lentils are smaller).
When I was conjuring up the idea for this salad in my mind, I initially thought I’d add crumbled Feta or shaved Parmesan on top. After one taste I knew this salad was perfect as-is, with its simple, bright flavors shining through and reflecting its perfectly green color. Of course a little cheese wouldn’t hurt at all, but if you decide to add a salty cheese, I’d cut back a little on the salt added to the dressing (maybe start with around 1/2 teaspoon).
- 1 cup (195 g) dry Pardina (Spanish brown) lentils
- 4 oz (115 g) kale, stems trimmed, thick inner ribs removed, and finely chopped (about 3 cups chopped small)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium-sized crisp, tart green apples (I used Granny Smith apples), washed, cored, and chopped
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 1 medium clove raw garlic, grated
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Sort through the lentils to remove any small stones or pieces of dirt, and then rinse with cold water in a colander. Add the lentils to a medium saucepan and fill about 3/4 full with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 25 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary. Strain the lentils, then rinse under cold running water, and cool completely.
- Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl, then toss in the lentils, kale, onion, and apple.
- Serve or store in the fridge for the next day.
Cooking Time: In my experience, Pardina lentils take a bit longer to cook than other green or brown lentils, which is a little counterintuitive since Pardina lentils are smaller than most other varieties. Just keep a close watch on them and start taste-testing for doneness at around the 25 minute cooking mark.