Your gaspacho looks so good!! It is hard to believe that we are in the same planet, and you are already in summer mode, when it is still April!
Here, spring has only now, officially kicked off, in an out-of-control-beautiful way! The sun is literally begging you to bathe in its rays, after the cold winter! I had not idea how pretty the English countryside was, until now. There are flowers everywhere.
The only thing I can be motivated to cook in this weather is picnic food! Which, let’s face it, is amazing! Cold salads, sandwiches, cheese, fruit and some vino… sheer bliss!
I have been seeing a lot of lentil salads around lately, but there is always an ingedient that is a little off for my taste. So, I decided I would do a little experimentation. Guest starring in this salad is a favorite ingredient served up in 2 ways! Guess what? tomatoes!!
I ♥ Tomatoes, too! All my favorite tomato memories are all associated with my beloved home country, Greece. My absolutely favorite way to eat them, is when we have camped out on the beach for the day with my family, and during lunch, I used to just wash one in the sea, just before biting into this devilishly delicious fruit. (Best part is the sea cleans it and salts it! 2-in-1!!) Ahhhhh, summer!
Smokey 2-way Tomato Lentil Salad
- 1 1/2 cups french lentils (soaked overnight)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 red onion
- 2 bell peppers (or 2 roasted red peppers)
- 9 cloves garlic
- 5 sundried tomatoes
- 3 tomatoes
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- Fresh parsley (small bunch)
- salt & pepper
- Place lentils in a pot over medium high heat, and cover with cold water, add bay leaf, 1/2 coarsely chopped onion, and 2 peeled and bruised garlic cloves. Cook for 30 mins, until the lentils are softened, but not mushy.
- While lentils cook, rehydrate the sundried tomatoes! In a small bowl, place the sundried tomatoes with boiling water and leave to soak.
- Time to make roasted peppers and garlic. Turn the grill or broiler on medium high.
- Line broiling/roasting pan with aluminum(you will need this, because the peppers will be spilling juices everywhere).
- Place the two peppers and 7 garlic cloves (keep skins on garlic) on the aluminum, and insert under hot grill. You will cook the peppers for a total of 20 minutes, basically until they are nicely charred and have significantly softened(if not collapsed all together). Garlic only needs half the time.
- You should check on them, about every 7 minutes, to turn them so they roast evenly. (Will you ever buy store ready roasted peppers again?? I think not!)
- Drain the lentils, discarding bay leaves, garlic and onion pieces. and place in a large bowl, to cool.
- Peel the garlic and peppers. (CAREFUL THEY ARE REALLY HOT!!) The garlic should smell delicious and have turned into a buttery consistency, while all the sweetness of the peppers should have surfaced with the roasting.
- Chop garlic and peppers. Place in the bowl with the lentils.
- Pour the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sugar in the bowl and coat all the lentils and roasted vegetables, so that they can absorb all the delicious flavors.
- Dice 3 fresh tomatoes and remaining half of the onion, and add to the lentils.
- Remove the sundried tomatoes from the water, slice into strips, and add to the lentils.
- Chop parsley, and add to the lentils along with chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Lentils have such an earthy taste to them, that the roasted flavors of the peppers and especially the garlic really match up wonderfully. And the fresh tomatoes and parsley, bring in a nice contrast. This tastes amazing with FETA!!!!