Recipe: Middle Eastern Lentil Salad with Cilantro

Middle Eastern Lentil Salad

Middle Eastern Lentil Salad with Cilantro

Christopher Kimball of Cook’s Illustrated came up with a novel cooking technique for this Middle Eastern Lentil Salad. The lentils are soaked, then cooked in the oven so they maintain their individual identity. This goes well on a mezze platter with some tabbouleh, turnip pickles, hummus and maybe some fermented beets. About 10 small servings.

1 c lentils (French preferred as they hold their shape better)
4 c hot water
1 T Kosher salt
2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded or chopped, about 3/4 c
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1 t Kosher salt
2 c chicken broth
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed but intact
1 bay leaf
3 T good olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1/4 c chopped cilantro (or mint or shiso or other bitter herb, if you don’t like cilantro)

Method: dissolve 1 T salt in hot water and add lentils; soak for one hour; drain. Meanwhile, toss the carrot with cumin, cinnamon, cayenne and 1 t salt in a serving bowl. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Transfer drained lentils to an oven safe dish; add chicken stock, bay leaf and garlic. Cover and bake 50 minutes or until lentils are tender. Check occasionally and add water if necessary. When lentils are done, remove bay leaf and garlic and pour off any excess liquid. Add to the serving bowl with the carrots and mix thoroughly. (This step will cook the carrots slightly.) When cool, toss with oil and lemon juice and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed, then stir in chopped cilantro. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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