A Girl and Her Lentil & Chickpea Salad

I’ve mentioned a few times that my husband is a chef. While this does mean that I eat very well, it also means that I am constantly pleading with him to stop buying cookbooks. We had to buy a huge IKEA bookshelf unit a month ago and it was immediately filled with all of the cookbooks that he had been storing hoarding at work. Since I keep trying to make him stop buying more, he has slyly found a way to work around that. He now buys them as “gifts” for me.

This is why I got a copy of the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook for Christmas  — which, yes, I admit, is fantastically fun. This is also why, when in passing I mentioned a blog post I had read regarding chef April Bloomfield, her cookbook A Girl and Her Pig showed up on our doorstep a week later.

I don’t even know why I was surprised.

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Lentil Salad: Rescuing me from the meat sweats!

I have always loved lentils. I think they are fabulous. One of my favorite soups is a lentil vegetable soup that I had to make in culinary school. It was a pain to make because I had to do a huge batch and all of the veggies (shallots, fennel and carrots) had to be hand cut into brunoise, which means 1/8 inch squares. Which means I absolutely hated prepping for it. But once I tasted the finished product, I was smitten. It was a great recipe that was magical because its simplicity allowed for the lentils to shine.

Last week was a perfect time to turn to my old friend the lentil de puy, or French lentil. I was feeling the need for a diet detox after spending five days in Seattle on business eating copious amounts of Iberico pork, foie gras and bacon. I was starting to get what my co-workers and I affectionately call the “meat sweats” — too much protein, not enough roughage. For reference, if you want to see someone get serious meat sweats, watch Tony Bourdain eat at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal. Skip to exactly five minutes in and you will see him die a little inside every time a new foie gras dish comes out of the kitchen. It’s tragic yet hilarious. And I can totally sympathize. We need vegetables with our meat, it’s a fact.

Anyway…since I didn’t feel up to making a soup, I unearthed a recipe for a lentil salad that I had been wanting to try out. It’s from America’s Test Kitchen’s Light & Healthy cookbook (one of my favorites) so I knew it would be good and hopefully it would satisfy my desire for some fiber.

I started with the basics — cooking the lentils. Lentil recipes always seem to start the same way — give your lentils a good rinse and pick through them. Now I always do this and while I understand the rinsing part, I am never too sure what I am supposed to be searching for when I “pick through them.” I always dig around but have yet to find anything exciting, like diamonds or gold pieces. In all seriousness, I’m guessing I’m looking for small rocks or “bad” lentils, but to be honest I’m not too sure. So I just sift through them for a few minutes until I feel I’ve fulfilled that step, then I move along.

Have any of you ever found anything mysterious hiding in your lentils? I’d be very curious to find out.

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