Thursday, April 2, 2020

Covid-19 lockdown recipe 4: lentil salads, i.e. making the most of 'poor' ingredients



Dried lentils are another 'staple' in my pantry, and I also noticed that while aisles of cans of beans were getting low at the supermarket, packets of dried lentils were still available. Good, because they are cheap and they go a long way, plus they are full of protein and very versatile: you can make soups, stews, curries, lasagne, side dishes or basically add them anywhere to 'increase' the size of your dishes and fill your belly. Because the weather is still nice I'll propose some salads, throwing in some fresh greens, edible flowers and a bit of NZ foraging too :-). All of these salads will serve heaps of people and last a few days in the fridge, in fact they taste better on the second day, giving the lentils time to absorb flavour from the dressing. So I usually make heaps and then before serving I take out what I need and I add the fresh greens and the flowers on the spot.





Lentils with flowers and leaves

500 g brown lentils
1 leaf bay
water and salt for boiling
extra virgin olive oil
white balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
mixed salad leaves
sliced radishes
tomatoes (cherry or cubed)
fresh herbs (like basil, parsley)
edible flowers


Soak the lentil overnight, then rinse well, add plenty of water, a bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Cook until 'al dente', or as soft as you like (but not mushy). Drain and briefly rinse under cold water. Place in a mixing bowl with the radishes and tomatoes, add extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar (to taste, but make sure that the ratio oil to vinegar is 2 to1), and some salt to taste. Line a serving plate or large shallow bowl with mixed salad leaves (leave a few small ones for the top), spoon the lentils on top, then sprinkle with the remaining salad leaves, herbs and petals (I used verbena, dianthus, and cornflowers).




Same recipe again but with broad beans and different flowers


 This time I added more tomatoes and also broad beans (just the frozen broad beans, to prepare them just cover them with boiling water and then remove the hard skin and they are ready to eat!) . Mix the lentils, broad beans and tomato with the dressing ingredients and place on a bed of mixes salad leaves. To decorate I used calendula, borage and dianthus petals.



With kahikatea berries


Here is another version with a bit of foraging from the New Zealand Bush! The kahikatea berries are ripening, it takes a long time to collect them but they are a welcome addition to a salad. You will need to remove the black blue seed and wash the berries delicately though. 

500 g brown lentils
1 leaf bay
water and salt for boiling
extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
frozen broad beans
kahikatea berries
calendula petals

Soak the lentil overnight, then rinse well, add plenty of water, a bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Cook until 'al dente', or as soft as you like (but not mushy). Drain and briefly rinse under cold water. Place in a mixing bowl, add extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and the broad beans (just use the frozen broad beans, cover them with boiling water and then remove the hard skin so that they are ready to eat and bright green). Mix well and then top with the kahikatea berries and calendula petals.


Last one for the day





And here yet another salad (same basic recipe again, use either lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar) and more flowers: nasturtium, borage, verbena, poppy, marigold, dianthus, and cornflowers.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

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