225g (8oz) Puy lentils, picked over for stones
1 fresh bay leaf
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
pinch of caster sugar
1 large red onion, finely chopped
50g (2oz) sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (depending on your taste)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
100g (4oz) goats' cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the lentils into a pan with the bay leaf, vinegar, one whole garlic clove, sugar and a little salt and pepper.
Cover with plenty of cold water, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for about 20-25 minutes until the lentils are just tender but still holding their shape.
Drain the lentils well, discarding the bay leaf and whole garlic clove. Tip them into a salad bowl and leave them to go cold.
Finely chop the remaining garlic clove and stir it into the lentils with the rest of the ingredients. Stir together well
Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stand for two hours before serving if you can.
For a brief shining moment a couple of weeks ago, it felt like spring was finally getting going. It was warm and lovely, the tulips were doing their thing and life was feeling on the up. However, this being the UK it didn't last long and today we are shivering again under grey skies and rain. But we hope for the best. The reason I mention the weather is that this dish is one of my go to salad type things for a barbecue as an accompaniment. It is (in my view anyway!) fabulous - the earthy lentils, sweet balsamic and sharp feta give a great range of tastes to enjoy and it can stand up to any grilled meat you happen to be doing.
It originates in a book the Late Wife bought for me many years ago - Ainsley Harriot's Barbecue Bible. It is out of print now, but it contains (quite) a few gems, and a number of recipes which I go back to again and again. Reader, if you are surprised, so was I - but believe me it is a good one. Over the summer if it is a good one, I will doubtless touch on a few others from here.
Puy lentils are a requirement I would say. You could use green lentils but they do'nt have the same earthy taste nor do they maintain the bite when cooked. The quantities here are meant to be for 8 as an accompaniment which is about right. You should make it a few horse before to allow the flavours to mingle, and serve at room temperature in my view. it is delicious for days after so dont worry about left overs, although you can easily halve the recipe