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Lentil Radish Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger – from Ottolenghi's Plenty

Monday, February 9, 2015

lentil radish salad with smashed garlic and ginger – ottolenghi’s plenty

These wintry days lead me to reach for comforting, nourishing food. The most comforting sensation to me is a too-hot bite of lentils fresh out of the pot or the smell of crushed garlic from my mom’s cutting board. So after reading Yotam Ottolenghi’s second of several cookbooks, I found the perfect recipe for me.

At first the simple “Cucumber Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger” sounded too simple – why invest time in a topping when I could whip up Lemon & Eggplant Risotto or Saffron Cauliflower? The secret is that it goes on nearly everything, including my favorite vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free-but-not-paleo base of choice, lentils, i.e. the sturdy foundation of my plant-based meals.

Lentil Radish Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger #SpicedCuriosity

Lentil Radish Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger #SpicedCuriosity

I love the way this salad tastes, and I love its purpose even more: to brighten up a heavy or greasy dish, like a sour dollop of Greek yogurt or crème fraîche. Basically, the raw onion and herbs are the beautiful acid you want to balance out a meal’s fat or sweetness.

I tweaked this brilliant recipe to make it seasonal/accessible year-round. Instead of the cooling cukes I opted for bright French breakfast radishes. (Any radish will do, but I love their oblong shape and beautiful gradient.) I also opted for mint instead of cilantro because, hey, it’s what I had on hand. If I was hard-pressed for a culinary reason though, I think that fresh mint adds another level of brightness to this salad.

Lentil Radish Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger #SpicedCuriosity

Lentil Radish Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger #SpicedCuriosity

Lentil Radish Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger #SpicedCuriosity

Also, using a mortar and pestle is ridiculously fun. Chalk it up there with other cooking highs like flipping a perfect pancake or shaking a pan of awesomely-caramelized onions. It just feels good.

Lentil Radish Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger #SpicedCuriosity

Lentil Radish Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger #SpicedCuriosity

Lentil Radish Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger #SpicedCuriosity

I hope you enjoy making and using this simple, healthful recipe. I love to make a batch of the salad (sans lentils) and store it for a few days so the flavors meld even more and I can use it in a tight squeeze.

I shared this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday.

lentil radish salad with smashed garlic and ginger – ottolenghi’s plenty

Yield: Serves 4 hungry humans

Ingredients

    salad:
  • 1 small red onion – thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. ginger – minced
  • 1 tsp. sea salt + extra to taste
  • 3 large garlic cloves – peeled and crushed
  • 4 small French breakfast radishes
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 Tbsp. mint leaves – chopped
  • 2 cups dried lentils
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • dressing:
  • 3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsps. neutral tasting oil (like sunflower)
  • 2 tsps. honey
  • 2 tsps. toasted sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Add the sliced red onions, mix well, and set aside to marinate for about an hour.
  2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Add the dried lentils and bay leaf and turn down heat to a simmer. Cook until al dente, then strain extra water and bay leaf. Mix in olive oil and salt to taste.
  3. Place ginger and salt in a mortar and grind with a pestle. (Or chop in a food processor). Add garlic and continue pounding until well crushed and broken into pieces – but stop before the mix becomes a puree. Scrape out the contents with a spatula and add to the onion mixture.
  4. Trim the greens off the radishes and thinly slice lengthwise. Add to bowl, along with sesame seeds and mint. Stir together and let sit for 10 minutes. Salt to taste. Serve the lentils in four bowls, and scoop a hearty amount of salad on top.
http://spicedcuriosity.com/lentil-radish-salad-smashed-garlic-ginger-ottolenghis-plenty/

So, why/when/where to use this:

With a fatty or heavy dish that is well-salted but tastes flat, use this salad on top to brighten the flavor and add acidity.

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