I mentioned this salad in a post I wrote a few months back about a super Sicilian-styled lunch chez Stefania Barzini. I asked her subsequently for the recipe and tried it out. It wasn’t quite as good as what we ate at her house but still, good enough to want to repeat, which is always comforting. I think it was the quality of the lentils I used that was the ‘problem’. For this recipe, the smaller and longer-to-cook lentil, the better: it will retain its shape suitable for a salad. Silly me, I should have used the famous lentils from the area of Castelluccio in Umbria, which are nearly always what I do use. Anway, enough with the mortification and on with the recipe.
INGREDIENTS: lentils, olive oil, a few shallots, 1 clove of garlic, 2 oranges and 2 lemons (like the Bells of Saint Clement’s) plus another half lemon for the final touch, fresh mint leaves and, if you like, and I do indeed like, a few chilli flakes
Stew some shallots and 1 clove of garlic with some olive oil in a deep saucepan, until softened. Over a low heat.
Add the lentils.Cut one of the oranges and the two lemons in half and place them over the lentils as shown in the photo.
Pour enough water to cover the lentils and turn the heat on. Sprinkle some salt too.
I can’t remember how long I cooked the lentils – but basically we are cooking them until they are done!
Once cooked, drain the lentils, remove the citrus fruits and wait for the lentils to cool. Transfer into a salad bowl, season with plenty of olive oil and salt, and then add the juice of half a lemon (or more if you prefer). Taste, see if more olive oil is required – cooked lentils are guzzlers for oil.
I did not take a final photo of this dish – the photo you see here is just before I poured more olive oil to anoint the salad. As you can see, I had peeled the other orange and cut it into slices, as well as adding fresh mint leaves. I did not add chilli flakes to the salad bowl (fresh chilli would be even better) because not everyone likes the heat – I sprinkled some over my own helping naturally! Very simple ingredients for a very tasty salad.