winter lentils and arugula salad

winter is such a fun time for cooking, citrus is bountiful and greens develop a sweet tang they lack in the summer.   new recipes seem easy to come by as we bring home found objects from far-away farmers markets.  last week in berkeley we picked up a buddha's hand (!) a squid shaped citron with no juice, only pulp and skin.  they are exceptionally fragrant and widely used for their zest.  this brightly flavored winter salad employs our winner toasted pumpkin seed and cilantro sauce, along with lemon zest and arugula.  water cress or fresh salad greens would make for a nice combination as well.  i find this recipe works best with room temperature ingredients.  if the lentils and sauce have been refrigerated, remove them before you start working.  if you don't have a buddha's hand, the zest from a meyer or regular lemon will work as well, don't let anything deter you from sharing this 'seconds please' salad with your friends!

1 cup yellow onions, diced

2 Tbl buddha's hand zest

or 1 Tbl lemon zest

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

2 cups dry green lentils (or 3 cups cooked)

1/2 cup asiago cheese, grated

1/4 -1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seed and cilantro sauce

3-5 cups arugula, roughly chopped

wedge of lemon


unless you have some lentils left over from a previous recipe, the first step is to soak the lentils for 7 hours or overnight, check out our soaking page for directions.  drain and rinse the soaked lentils and place in a pot.  cover with water by an inch and bring to a boil.  with a spoon, continuously skim the surface to remove the grayish skum and bubbles.  with green lentils theres usually quite a bit of skum that is easy to miss, so don't leave your lentils till they are skimmed.  let boil for 2-3 minutes before turning off the heat and putting a lid on.  let them sit for 10 minutes before straining and rinsing with cool water.  set aside 3 cups of the strained cooked lentils for this salad and use up the rest in another great recipe.

add the diced onion, lemon zest and sea salt to a bowl along with a glug of olive oil (about 1 Tbl).  mix and let rest at least ten minutes or up to 30.  this both softens the bite of the onion and brightens it with the zest.

while you wait, prep your arugula or greens by chopping and tossing with the juice from a lemon wedge and set aside.  after the onions have rested, add the lentils and grated cheese and mix gently with a spatula.  pour on 1/4 cup of the toasted pumpkin seed and cilantro sauce and mix in.  add fresh ground pepper and salt to taste.  add more sauce or olive oil to reach the consistency and flavor you like.  i like it on the wet side with closer to 1/2 cup of the sauce.

i think this salad is beautiful plated.  to do this, add a handful of arugula to a plate and top with a hearty dollop of lentils (like 1/2 cup!) and fresh ground pepper.  alternatively, add the arugula to a serving bowl and top with the lentils.  it is best to mix just what you will use.  figure on about a cup of greens per person and 1/2 cup lentils.  enjoy!