Springtime is about new beginnings in the kitchen. It's the time for baby roots, wispy leaves and tender stalks to tentatively emerge from the earth. Fresh, crisp and delicate, these greens are a sight for winter eyes and a delicacy to eat, a simple cleanse following a season of hardy winter fare. But spring can be fickle. Its promise of budding flowers and new growth can be erased in a single day with a stubborn blast of cold weather, altering a sunny vignette to a blustery stew-craving day.
Here is a salad that will help you ride this changeable time. It celebrates springtime's early asparagus shoots and baby greens, tossing them into a nourishing bowl of black lentils, which grounds the salad, providing heft and substance in response to any lingering winter weather.
Black lentils are tiny, and their pelletlike resemblance to caviar has earned them the nickname "beluga lentils." Like brown or green lentils, black lentils are a fortifying source of iron, fiber, protein, folate and magnesium -- plus, they are easy on the wallet. Unlike other lentils, black lentils remain firm when cooked, which makes them a great addition to salads, while their inky color provides vivid contrast to bright vegetables.
So, go ahead, celebrate spring and indulge in this healthy salad. If any winter weather comes knocking, the lentils have got your back.
Black Lentil Salad With Asparagus and Egg
Active time: 45 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup black lentils
6 to 8 thin asparagus
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
2 cups coarsely chopped greens, such as spinach or arugula
2 spring onions, white and pale green parts thinly sliced
1 small red jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 hard-cooked egg yolks, crumbled
Rinse and sift through the lentils for any small stones. Put the lentils in a large saucepan and cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover the pan and simmer until the lentils are tender but firm, about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and rinse under cold water to cool. Transfer to a large bowl.
While the lentils are cooking, bring a wide pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the asparagus and blanch until they are bright green and crisp-tender, no more than 1 minute. Drain and rinse the asparagus under cold water to stop the cooking process. Cut off and reserve the tips and cut the stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.
Whisk the garlic, oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the lentils and stir to coat. Add the asparagus tips and stalks, the greens, spring onions, jalapeno, parsley and mint. Gently stir to combine and taste for seasoning -- you might need more salt. If the salad is too dry at this point, drizzle with a little extra oil or a squeeze of lemon.
Transfer the salad to a platter or divide among serving plates. Alternatively, arrange over a pile of greens. Garnish with the crumbled egg yolks and black pepper and serve.
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