Although lentils have been around since biblical times, they are a new staple ingredient in my kitchen. They are an inexpensive source of protein and fiber, with a mild flavor and substantial mouth feel. Lentils are extremely versatile, as they can be served warm, cold or at room temperature and can take on any number of flavor profiles. My recipe today is an Italian inspired lentil salad, which is hearty enough to serve as a main course alongside a green salad or as a wonderful accompaniment to roasted or grilled beef, chicken or pork.
Italian Inspired Lentils:
1lb packaged of dried lentils*
8 cups water
4 slices of prosciutto
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 boxes of baby bella mushrooms
3 shallots, sliced
4 oz parmigiano reggiano, sliced with a vegetable peeler
Fresh Thyme Leaves for garnish
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Place dried lentils in a dutch oven and cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until lentils are cooked through, but not mushy. Drain any excess water
*If you have a couple of stems of parsley or cilantro or a scallion or a piece of onion, throw them into the lentil pot. This will add another layer of flavor to your lentils. Discard the additional herbs and onions once lentils are cooked.
While lentils are cooking, place prosciutto slices in a saute pan over medium-high heat and cook until crispy. Flip prosciutto over to ensure that both side are crispy. Remove from pan and set aside to cool and then crumble. To the same pan, add 1 tsp of EVOO and one box of mushrooms. Allow mushrooms to cook until dark brown and caramelized. Remove the first batch of mushrooms to a plate and repeat the process with the second box of mushroom. To the same pan, add two tablespoons of EVOO and saute the shallots until crispy. Stir often, so that they do not burn. Remove to a separate plate with a slotted spoon.
Make the vinaigrette by combining all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well to combine.
In a large bowl, toss lentils and half of the mushrooms with about half of the vinaigrette. Place this mixture onto desired serving platter and garnish with remaining mushrooms, prosciutto, shallots, cheese and thyme leaves. Drizzle with extra dressing if needed or serve on the side.
Buon Appetito! And make every plate something to be passionate about!