Mozzarella and Lentil Salad with Fresh Herb Dressing

I’m pretty sure I don’t appreciate fresh herbs as much as I should. I know they impart aromas and flavors that just can’t be matched from a jar of the dried stuff. Yet I find myself heading back to my spice rack more often than not. Granted, usually it’s going in something.

I made the journey to Tabor Bread, a local bakery, this weekend. It’s taken me forever to get here. As a glorified bread-lover, I’m kind of appalled it’s taken so long. Shame on me. It took all my willpower not to order everything. I know it’s never going to last, and it’s really not that far away. I just need to go more often. A small batard, walnut sticky bun, and mountain fougasse [white wheat dough filled with fire-roasted vegetables, herbs, and cheese] later, I was a happy girl. That fougasse was heated, cut into fours, and served with olive oil and pickles. There were all kinds of herbs, olives, and cheese in there. I hadn’t felt like I loved olives and herbs as much until that exact moment. My god, it was good. Herbs. Herbs make everything better [well, maybe not cereal…].

It made this salad totally worthwhile. The mozzarella didn’t hurt either. It’s the kind of salad that needs something simple with it, like roasted chicken or some toasted bread. It’s fresh and earthy in the only way herbs and lentils can be. That dressing, though. Delicious. Divine. The total process was easy. Perfect for cooking up while drinking a glass of wine, which seems to be the norm lately. I’m not sad about it. Or having to make more journeys to Tabor bread more often [that sweet potato and nutmeg boule!].

Inspiration: With Style and Grace

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • handful of assorted fresh herbs, finely chopped [chives, basil, and thyme for me]
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 teaspoons toasted pine nuts
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

If you want to take the lazy route, throw the garlic, celery, and carrot to a food processor to cut down on your finely dicing time. I’m a huge fan.

In a medium saucepan, add the lentils, a pinch of salt, and just enough water to cover. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and allow to cook until tender, about 30-35 minutes.

Mix together the 4 tablespoons of oil, vinegar, fresh herbs, and mustard either in a blender or shake it together in a jar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You’re only going to take 6-8 minutes to finish this part, so make sure your lentils are done or are close to done at this point. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan on medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the carrot and celery mixture. Spread it out evenly on the pan so it can evaporate some of the water that was generated and really soak up some of the oil while it sautés. When they’re soft and fragrant remove them from the heat and add them to the lentils. Toss the mixture with the chunks of mozzarella and drizzle with the dressing. Stir well before serving. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts.

7 comments

  1. Sara Kuhlman

    Just checked out the bread site – savoury bread pudding?? Can not wait.
    And I’m a huge fan of lentil everything. I went through a phase where I was experimenting with putting it in everything that ground beef would typical go in – like wimpies, chili, etc. I was actually thinking just this weekend it was time for some lentil sloppy joes again!

    • Sara Kuhlman

      I realized I called them both wimpies and sloppy joes in the same setting. I’m always confused about what I call them! What do you say??

      • Michelle

        I love that you call them wimpies. I hardly ever hear them called that. It has always been sloppy joes. Speaking of, I haven’t had them in SO long. I have this oh-so-unflattering story of my dad and I having an eating contest of them. And I won.

  2. Eileen

    Yay!! We only got to go to Tabor once when we were in town, but oh man, was it worth it. Now I am totally imagining a few slices of their bread with scoops of this salad for dinner–clearly the perfect plan.

      • Eileen

        We got a loaf of wood-fired blueberry hazelnut spelt bread, which was the bread of the day and does not seem to be on their menu anymore (although maybe I am looking in the wrong place? Or they have rotating specials or something?) and it was exceptional. BREADDD

        • Michelle

          I bet it’s the same place. They rotate their specials out, and they’re especially known for their spelt breads. It sounds out of this world good. I love bread so much. So, so much.

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