Lemony French lentil salad with purslane

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I love salad in all of its forms, but sometimes you just want something more hearty and filling than lettuce. Hence, someone’s genius idea to make a cold salad with lentils (and the rest is history). High in protein, flavor, and fiber, this version features an up-and-coming green veggie, purslane. What is purslane, you ask? Well, you may recognize it as a weed that grows in gardens and from cracks in sidewalks, but it turns out to be a nutritional powerhouse packed with omega-3 fatty acids, and is gaining increasing popularity as a culinary green. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea for any botany nerds out there) is an annual succulent plant that has a vaguely spinach-like taste but with a nice crunch and a lemony flavor. If it doesn’t happen to be growing in a patch of dirt near you, do like I did and look for it at the farmer’s market! Now, on to this summery salad, which serves 6 generously as a side dish, or 4 as a main course.

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Salad Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of French (du Puy) green lentils (these are smaller than regular brown lentils, cook faster and hold their shape better when cooked)
  • 1 Tbsp or 1 block of vegetarian soup broth powder (my favorite brands are Rapunzel and Seitenbacher’s, which you can find at natural food stores)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow bell or heirloom sweet pepper, chopped
  • about 8 grape, cherry, or mini San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 large stems of purslane (it’s the green one on the bottom in the photo below)

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Dressing Ingredients:

  • Juice of 1 small lemon (about 2 Tbsp) and 1 tsp of grated lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp of red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp of preservative-free hot sauce (e.g. Cholula, TJ’s sriracha, or Tobasco)
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

In a medium sauce pan, bring the lentils, broth, and 4 cups of water to boil. Meanwhile, whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Finely chop the veggies and herbs (except the purslane). Wash the purslane stems thoroughly and pick off the leaves individually (leaving smaller leaf bunches intact) and discard the stems.

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After the lentils have cooked for about 20 min at a low boil, test for doneness (they should be cooked through but still slightly firm). When the lentils are done, drain off excess liquid and then rinse in cold water.

Add the lentils to a large salad bowl, followed by the veggie and herb ingredients. Pour dressing over the top and toss until well combined. Serve chilled.

 

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