Lentil Celery Salad

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Hello! January is here. It’s the time of year that I should be posting soups and braises, but instead I’m sharing a salad recipe. I promise it is not a wimpy salad. This is a hearty, protein-packed dish, loaded with plenty of flavor. There is contrasting texture from the lentils and the crunchy celery. The celery, onion, preserved lemon, and cilantro make it exciting for the palate. It can be a meal in itself, and is delightful for lunch, or as an accompaniment to fish, chicken, or pork. I’m even contemplating folding it into some mashed avocado and making a sandwich with it.

This recipe makes several servings, about eight as a main dish, and more as a side. I know most of us are not going to potlucks right now, but I really despise partially used bags of legumes. Therefore this recipe calls for a full pound of lentils. You can easily half the recipe, or just plan on eating it for lunch for a few days.

Closeup of green lentil salad with bias cut celery, and lots of fresh herbs. Salad has not meat or dairy and has a purple and gray background.
  • 1# dried green lentils
  • 8-10 celery stalks, cut in half lengthwise and then thin bias cut (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 red onion, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 bunch green onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 preserved lemon, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 3 oz olive oil
  • 2 oz white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • salt
  1. Prepare lentils. Rinse and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, and turn down to a simmer. Cook for 20- 25 minutes until tender, but not mushy. (Cooking times vary by lentil variety so follow package directions if there are any. Check periodically to make sure you do not overcook them.) Salt after cooking and strain.
  2. Cool lentils after straining by spreading out on a sheetpan at room temperature.
  3. Prepare celery, onions, green onion and preserved lemon and combine in a large bowl.
  4. Add cooked lentils, grated garlic, oil and vinegar and toss. Season to taste with salt.
  5. Add cilantro just before you are ready to serve the salad and toss. The salad can be enjoyed immediately at room temperature, or chilled for later. The salad will still taste great if the cilantro sits, but the herb will lose some of its vibrancy.

Notes:

  • Green or black lentils work well in salads, but do not try to substitute red as they don’t hold their shape as well.
  • If you don’t have preserved lemon, add the zest of two lemons. The flavor is different, but it’ll still be delicious.
  • This salad would work with a variety of herbs. If you don’t like cilantro try parsley, dill, chives, or a blend of herbs.

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