Castelluccio lentils from Umbria are tiny brownish jewels with a delicate flavor and a wonderfully tender texture. Like Puy lentils, they don’t disintegrate in the cooking, which makes them ideal for salads. You can get them from Italian or gourmet markets, or use Puy instead. This substantial dish, which is best eaten at room temperature, can be served on its own or with steamed seasonal greens such as broccolini or baby fennel.
WHY I LOVE THIS RECIPE
This is one of those wonderful room-temperature salads that can be prepared in advance and left out on a buffet, so it’s perfect for large gatherings. In addition, it goes with just about anything or can stand on its own. I often make this as a main course and serve it with bread for a delicious mid-week treat.
Courtesy of: Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi
5 plum tomatoes
8 thyme sprigs
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon good-quality red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/3 cups Castelluccio lentils, or Puy
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons chopped chervil or parsley
3 tablespoons chopped chives
4 tablespoons chopped dill
3 ounces mild Gorgonzola, crumbled
For the Oven-Dried Tomatoes:
Preheat the oven to 275°. Quarter the tomatoes vertically and place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top of them. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for 1½ hours, or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool down slightly.
For the Lentils:
Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the vinegar and sprinkle with the sea salt. Stir, then leave for a few minutes so the onion softens a bit.
Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 1¼ inches above the lentils) and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a sieve and, while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Also add the olive oil, garlic and some black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the Gorgonzola and tomatoes as you build up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top and serve.