The toasted almonds here lift plain-old lentil salad (plenty good enough on its own) to star status. If you really want to gild the lily, use the small, green lentils du Puy from France. Layering salad on salad--dressed lentils over mixed greens--makes a whole meal.
1 1/2 cups lentils
1 quart water
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
7 tablespoons olive or other oil, such as peanut
4 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 red onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 pound mixed salad greens (about 2 quarts)
How to Make It
Put the lentils in a medium saucepan with the water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and return to the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1 tablespoon of the vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Mix gently and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large nonstick frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Combine the cooked lentils with the vegetables.
In a small frying pan, toast the almonds over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Or toast them in a 350° oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Shortly before serving, stir the almonds and parsley into the lentil mixture. Put the greens in a large glass or stainless-steel bowl and toss with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve the lentil mixture over the greens.
Wine Recommendation: The unique earthy flavor of the lentils and the tangy vinaigrette call out for the delicate balance of sweet and tart found in a riesling kabinett from Germany's Mosel region.
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