This week winter showed up. Yeah, we’ve had snow for a while, but it’s been relatively warm out. But today’s description on the weather channel was, and I quote:
“Fair…18*…Feels like 8*.”
So, maybe you too are feeling the aggressive cold outside and thinking, “Apple Lentil Salad? What kind of seasonal blog is this?” How right you are, my friend.
But recently, I was really inspired by this quote from one of my favorite cookbooks of all time, Simply in Season. The whole book is full of these little bits of wisdom from people who have cared about food and seasonality and sustainability a lot longer than I have:
In a recent conversation with my spiritual director about lettuce (yes, lettuce can be spiritual), he complained about the high price of lettuce due to freezes in the southern states. I just said I don’t eat lettuce in the winter. No salads all winter? Does salad mean lettuce? In the winter, to be present to the season, to my locality, and to the hibernating earth, salads take on a new look. There are pickled beets canned in the fall, salads made with cabbage, carrots, or apples, all of which have been preserved in the root cellar. There are sprouts of all kinds – radish, alfalfa, and bean – but no lettuce.
-(Mary Beth Lind, co-author of Simply in Season)
This is a line of thinking that is relatively new to my humble brain: eating with the seasons, in a particularly wintery state. And to be honest, there’s a lot I have yet to learn (although I have a post brewing with some things I have picked up along the way as well as some super-awesome resources I’ve come across recently.)
So, here’s to the effort. Let’s all raise a glass to the lettuce-less salad? Though, at first glance, this is exactly the kind of thing I wouldn’t have even considered eating 7 years ago.
And though I was fairly skeptical as I looked at the recipe, I was intrigued enough to try. And I’m glad I did. This turned out surprisingly well, both in taste and texture. Any combination of apples and curry is a winner in my book, and the addition of lentils added a really nice firmness to the mix. The potatoes made this a truly filling salad, and I was excited to make something so tasty from just 8 ingredients. This salad is a well-balanced mixture of sweet and sour, and it’s surprisingly salad-like. It felt fresh in my mouth – even as we head into the depths of winter. Bonus! I brought this to our last church potluck and hid it among the other more-traditional salads on the table, and lo and behold, it got all eaten up – down to the last lentil.
Carpe´ salad. Carpe´ season.
Bonus tip! A uniquely northern-hemisphere way to cool your lentils…though watch out for greedy squirrels. Those are some suspicious looking paw prints in the snow.
(recipe adapted from Simply in Season)
(yields 6-8 servings, but I think as a side, it could be stretched to more like 10)
I didn't adapt this much; I just left out the handful of fresh or frozen parsley that the original recipe called for because I didn't have any, and I'm not a huge parsley fan. I didn't miss it. I think this salad tasted better without it.
1 c. lentils
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. salt
2 c. water
2 tart apples (cored and diced) (I used Granny Smith)
1/4 c. cider vinegar or lemon juice (I used the cider vinegar)
2 potatoes (peeled, cooked, cooled, and chopped)
1/2-1 small onion, finely diced
Soak the lentils in 1 c. of hot water for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook your potatoes. I cut mine into 2-inch chunks and boiled them like you would for mashed potatoes. I didn't let them get quite so soft, however; I took them out and ran them under cold water when I could push a fork through without it falling apart. Once potatoes are cool, finely chop them and set them aside.
Just before lentils are done soaking, heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add salt and curry powder, and stir until bubbly. Drain the soaking lentils, add to sauce pan, and fry briefly.
Add 2 c. of water to the saucepan and cook until water is absorbed and lentils are tender (adding more water if needed). This should take about 20 minutes. Once lentils are tender, drain off any excess water and cool.
In a large bowl, combine diced apples with cider vinegar or lemon juice (to prevent browning). Add in the cooled lentils and potatoes as well as the diced onions. Stir gently. Season with salt to taste.