Monday, June 16, 2014

Persian Lime Lentil Salad


Persian Lime Lentil Salad
Serves: 4
Difficulty level: Easy
Persian Lime Lentil Salad 
Lentils, like other legumes, are low in fat and high in protein and fiber, but they have the added advantage of cooking quickly. They have a mild, often earthy flavor. The best, most delicate varieties are the peppery French green lentils. Their unique flavor is attributed to the volcanic soil where they grow, sans fertilizer, which gives them their fine, mineral-rich taste. Consequently, they have less starch so do not get all mushy and muddy when cooked.


Dried limes – khaki-colored sun-dried limes – and one of the standout ingredients of Persian cuisine with an intense citrus essence and an iconic component of the Persian flavor profile. If interested in Persian cuisine, this is absolute must and can be found online unless you have a nearby Middle Eastern market. 
The star of the show!
Like regular limes, they’re bitter and sweet at the same time, but have a far more intense flavor because they combine the taste of the juice and the rind. For lime and lemon lovers, they’re a dream come true.  Dried limes are thrown into soups and stews.  It is essential that you perforate the limes before cooking so that the cooking liquid can be easily infused with their flavor. The limes are hard, like hollow rocks. Before cooking, soak the limes in very hot water, just enough to cover, to soften their exteriors. After about 15 minutes, you can easily pierce them with a fork and the limes to whatever you are cooking.
Dried limes...not very attractive, but delicious
  • ½ lb. (about 1 C) green lentils, picked over and well rinsed
  • 1 – 2 dried limes, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, then pierced in several places
  • Water
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 15-20 cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ C chopped parsley
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 3 Tb fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Combine lentils, 3 C water (could include lime soaked water to boost lime flavor), and pierced dried limes in a medium saucepan and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes.
 
Lentils ready to cook

Cook the lentils with the dried limes

Drain lentils, discard dried limes, and set lentils aside to cool to room temperature.
 
Draining lentils
Combine onions, tomatoes and parsley in a medium bowl, add cooled lentils and mix well. Whisk together oil and fresh lemon juice in a small bowl and stir into lentil mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve to accolades.
 
And now for herbs and spices!
I like to add any leftover lentils to green salads – gives them an extra protein burst!

See the Spinach, Lentil & Feta Salad. http://cookingwithlarue.blogspot.com/2013/01/spinach-lentil-feta-salad-with-sour.html
If using these lentils, I would lighten the dressing to make a simple vinaigrette or make additional dressing above (lemon & olive oil) to dress the greens. 

Or add the lentils a sprinkling to top a wonderful thick soup.  An example would be the Sunchoke Soup with Apples & Lentils. http://cookingwithlarue.blogspot.com/2013/01/spinach-lentil-feta-salad-with-sour.html

Or, perhaps the Roasted Potato, Leek and Arugula Soup:  http://cookingwithlarue.blogspot.com/2013/02/roasted-potato-leek-and-arugula-soup.html

I any case, give the Persian Lime Lentils a chance.  You will not be disappointed and then you will own the amazing dried limes to use in so many other dishes.

Larue

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