Lentils speak of stew. Their strong flavor and hearty texture seem to beckon a warm, allium-blessed broth. This image is captured in God’s Word, a steaming pot of lentils grabbing Esau’s appetite:
Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished…Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew.
Genesis 25:29, 34 NIV
What’s a summer gardener to do with this winter-savory fare? Turn lentils into a chilled salad. Adding the refreshment of Numbers 11 ingredients, a cold lentil salad satisfies on a twilight evening when it is too hot to cook. This recipe pairs them with cucumbers because, face it: Every summer garden needs plenty of cucumber recipes!
Assemble the salad in the morning and let flavors blend while chilling all day. Then you can wander out to the garden knowing dinner is ready.
Lentil Summer Salad
1 C. red lentils (they turn gold while cooking)
3 C. water
1 bay leaf
2 T. coriander seed
2 T. chopped combination of leeks, onions, and garlic
2 T. diced Swiss chard stems
2 T. grapeseed oil
¼ t. salt
zest of 1 medium lemon
6-7 medium Swiss chard leaves, shredded
¾ C. cucumber, diced
¾ C. golden raisins
2 T. rice vinegar
salt & black pepper to taste
Bring water with bay leaf to boil. Add lentils and gently simmer, leaving lid slightly tilted, for 15 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, lightly toast coriander seeds. Keep the dry seeds moving for 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat. Then pour into mortar and pestle. Grind seeds and sift through sieve into small bowl.
Combine grapeseed oil, leeks, onions, garlic , and chard stems in pan and saute for several minutes until soft. Add to coriander bowl and stir. Next add salt and lemon peel. Stir evenly to make dressing.
When lentils are ready, pour into colander and remove bay leaf. Transfer to salad bowl and add shredded chard leaves. Cover for a few minutes for chard to wilt from steam of warm lentils.
Add cucumber, raisins, dressing, and rice vinegar and toss thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Chill for 1 to several hours to let flavors to blend. Serves 3 to 4 as main course. Recipe easily multiplies.
Summer Garden Notes
Swiss chard leaves give this salad a happy color. Use stems as well as leaves. I love to grow chards because they are greens that flourish without bolting in a summer garden.
I grew ‘American flag’ leeks this year, which are smaller than other varieties, and my onions and garlic grew on the small side, too. However, their flavor is robust and even this little handful packs plenty of taste into the lentil salad.
This recipe was made with our first baby! We have a poke-along crop of cucumbers this year. Did the May rains set back the pollinators? We have plenty of blossoms but not many setting fruit; perhaps hand pollination is in order.
Persevere through the summer, dear gardeners!
In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.
James 1:21 The Message
Photo Credits: © 2015 Shelley S. Cramm, and Grace Cramm took my picture!