Sunday, September 11, 2016

Lentil and potato salad with caramelized garlic and Parmesan dressing

Caramelized garlic is the star of this salad. I borrowed the recipe for the garlic from Yotam Ottolenghi's garlic tart. Soft and sweet nuggets of deliciousness are spread throughout the salad - just enough to add the element of surprise but not in every bite. Lentils and crispy potatoes provide bulk and baby arugula is the perfect green with a mild bite. The Dijon Parmesan dressing ties it all together beautifully. Makes the ideal main course salad. While this is a lengthy recipe with many steps, the end result is worth all the effort - after all it is "The Main Course"!

Lentil and potato salad with caramelized garlic and Parmesan dressing

1 cup French green lentils
9 large fingerling potatoes
1 large bulb of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon good quality balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup water + more for boiling
Freshly ground black pepper
pinch of salt
2 large handfuls of baby arugula, washed and dried

Dressing
1 tablespoon good quality red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  1. Add 3 cups of water and 1 cup lentils to a 3 quart saucepan and bring the water to a boil. Simmer over medium low heat for about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and continue to simmer for 10 to 15 more minutes till the lentils are cooked but not mushy. If the water has not absorbed, drain the excess water. Transfer to a glass bowl and set aside.
  2. In another saucepan, boil the fingerling potatoes with the skin in plenty of salted water, for about 10 to 15 minutes till the a knife pierced through goes through. Drain and let them cool. Peel and slice the potatoes about 1/4 inch thick. Preheat the oven to 400 F. While the oven is heating, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of kosher salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Arrange the sliced potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet and place it in the middle rack of the preheated oven and cook for 12 minutes. Flip and cook for another 12 to 15 minutes till they are crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, place the peeled garlic cloves in a small saucepan with enough water to cover the garlic cloves. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside. Wipe the saucepan dry and add the cloves and 1 teaspoon olive oil  and fry on  high heat for exactly 2 minutes just to brown a tiny bit.  Add the balsamic vinegar, 1/3 cup water and bring to the boil.  Simmer gently for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes add the sugar, chopped thyme and a pinch of kosher salt and continue  to cook on a medium heat for a further 10 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in a dark caramel syrup. Set aside.
  4. Whisk all the ingredients of the dressing till it is emulsified. 
  5. To assemble the salad, spread the arugula on the serving platter. Warm the lentils if they were made in advance - 1 minute in the microwave oven will be adequate. Toss the lentils with half of the dressing and then place the warm lentils on the arugula. Scatter the crisp potatoes on top of the lentils and tuck the caramelized garlic spread evenly all over the platter. Drizzle rest of the dressing on top. And its ready to serve.
Serves 3 as a main course.

Note; The potatoes should be the last thing cooked as they are best warm!

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