This salad is a delicious combination of wholesome, earthy lentils, peppery, nutty arugula and sharp, sweet red onion, tossed with bursts of sweet grapes and lightly candied walnuts. No one will be able to tell that you threw this salad together in minutes, and its great flavours might remind you and your guests how much you love lentils – just in time for Love Your Lentils Canada month. (For more lentil recipes and information, visit www.loveyourlentils.ca.)
Chef Michael Smith has written five cookbooks and hosted several cooking shows on the Food Network, including Chef at Large.
4 cups water
1 cup green, du Puy or beluga lentils
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup whole walnuts
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon your favourite hot sauce
½ teaspoon salt
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups red grapes, halved
5 ounces (about 6 cups) arugula
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water, lentils and salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and continue cooking just until the lentils are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Strain off any excess water, cool to room temperature and the lentils are ready to add to any salad.
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Put the sugar and the walnuts into a small plastic bag and pour in a teaspoon of olive oil. Then toss everything together until the nuts are evenly coated. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet, then bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Watch the nuts closely, as they can burn easily. Cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a large salad bowl, whisk the remaining three teaspoons (or one tablespoon) of olive oil together with the vinegar, honey, hot sauce and salt. Toss in the red onion and grapes. Just before serving, throw in the arugula and toss everything together thoroughly, evenly distributing the vinaigrette. Top with the walnuts and lentils. Serve and share.