Wild Flowers and Summer Lentils
We spent last week high up in the mountains in Colorado with my in-laws. Late June at 8500 feet in and around Rocky Mountain National Park is one heck of a beautiful place to be. I’ve always loved wildflowers but have rarely gotten out of the city in spring/early summer for many years. I became a certified wildflower geek, camera in tow, making everyone stop so I could take pictures and falling asleep with the wildflower book in hand. So this week you’re going to get a tiny sampling of those photos.
When we returned home to a more or less empty fridge but thriving garden and well-stocked pantry/freezer I made a quick, hearty salad. I found a container of previously cooked French green lentils (Puy lentils) in the freezer. I tend to cook lentils (regular brown, red, little green, etc. ) in the cooler months but I’m finding more and more uses for them this time of year and my four-year-old really likes them, so there they were waiting for me in the freezer.
I picked arugula, parsley, and chives in the garden, made a garlicky dressing with Greek Yogurt and that was it. I’ve given more detail in the recipe below but it’s really just a guide as to how one can use those heartier pulses (or grains) in summery ways. So experiment away with what you have in your garden, freezer, pantry and of course there’s that yogurt. One of my favorite cookbook authors Yotam Ottlenghi has a disclaimer in the headnote of one of his recipes (that I can’t seem to put my finger on at that moment) that goes something like this: “I know not all of you want to dollop rich Greek yogurt on everything you eat but in this case, it’s really worthwhile. . .” I feel that way more often than not and in this recipe the yogurt turns into a silky dressing.
We had just barely unpacked when I made this dish and I neglected to take any photos. And I’m venturing to guess that the wildflowers were much more photogenic than this salad (or that my very limited photography skills could represent).
Summer Lentil Salad with Yogurt Dressing
Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a light entrée
2 1/2 cups cooked and cooled small French green lentils (see note above)
3 -4 cups arugula (or other strongly flavored salad green) cut into 1-inch ribbons
1/4 cups of parsley roughly chopped
3 tablespoons chives, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or mashed with some salt with the side of a chef’s knife
1/4 cup Greek or regular full fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons good-quality extra virgin olive oil
zest of half a lemon
juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons red wine or sherry vinegar (to taste) or just more lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
Mix all ingredients together. Taste for salt and acidity and adjust as you like. Serve with good bread and cheese for a light supper.