Makes 6 servings
Total time: 20 minutes || Active time: 20 minutes (not including time to cook lentils)
I love summery food. But enjoying a summery salad doesn’t mean that you have to be hungry ten minutes later. Enter the lentil.
This salad, studded with the little legume, makes the most of the season. It’s hearty and light at the same time. Sweet and savory. Whimsical, yet down to earth. Full of contradiction. It’s the Zooey Deschanel of salad!
I love to toss together field greens, with their pretty colors and velvetty textures, and romaine, for the crunch. The fruit adds sweetness (obviously), but texture, too. Choose fruit that is a little bit more firm than you’d like to eat as is, that way it holds its sweet form once you mix it with the dressing. And the lentils make the salad not only substantial but also maybe a little adorable?
The pickled red onions are totally optional. But I urge you to make them because 1) they’re easy and 2) they add a sweet tartness that just makes the salad sing. All you have to do is toss the pickles in a little vinegar and sugar right before prepping everything else. 15 minutes will give you a mild pickle, but if you do it a few hours ahead, you’ll get something awesome like this (excuse the Instagram photo!):
They’re great on veggie burgers and tacos, too. If you’re not the type to make pickles, this might be the time to change that. It makes a great conversation starter/pickup line. “Hey, I make pickles.” Try it.
Ok, now go forth and salad!
~You can use whichever stonefruit you’d like. Mix it up, even, with plums and apricots. Add some pitted cherries. Live a little.
~I use French or beluga lentils here, because they hold their shape wonderfully. Brown or green would work, too, but don’t mess with red lentils or you’ll have mush salad.
~To cook lentils, submerge them in slightly salted water by 3 inches. You can throw in a bay leaf, if you like. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer, and let cook for about 20 minutes, with the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Check tenderness after 20 minutes, but it could take 30 or even 40 minutes for them to be Goldilocks perfect: not too soft, not too hard.
~Once lentils are tender enough, drain and spread them out in the colander to cool. (Obviously make sure the colander has holes small enough that the lentils won’t fall through.) If you’re trying to speed chill them, place in the freezer and give them a stir every few minutes. They’ll cool in 15 minutes or so that way. Otherwise, place in the fridge once they’re stopped steaming. You can do this a few days ahead.
~If you don’t want to cook lentils, you can purchase canned or boxed ones that are already cooked. They’re pretty good! Just give a rinse and you’re good to go.
For the Pickled Red Onions:
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
Small red onion, sliced into thin half moons
Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup vegan mayo, storebought or homemade
2 tablespoons chopped shallot or onion
1 clove garlic (about a teaspoon minced)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Big pinch salt
For the salad:
4 oz mixed greens
1 romaine heart, chopped
1 lb stone fruit (I used nectarines), diced small
2 cup lentils cooked lentils (see cooking notes above)
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar and salt. Add the onions and splash them around. Let them soak while you prepare everything else, giving a stir every now and again. You can also prepare these a few hours, or even a few days ahead, for a more pickly pickled onion.
To make the dressing, wizz everything together in a small blender. Taste for salt and seasoning.
In a large mixing bowl, toss together the greens, fruit and lentils. Top with pickled onions and drizzle with dressing. Serve!