Here we are in August. It’s hot. The world is exhausted. And here I am posting another recipe. I might delete it next week, in fact I might delete the whole blog with it. At this point cooking is merely a distraction from the chaos, and I haven’t derived the same enjoyment from it (or anything else) as I have in the past. But every so often, maybe once a month I come up with a recipe on the fly that I’d like to make again so here we are.
I’ve got plenty of Swiss chard in the garden this year (it’s the most beautiful vegetable) and to be honest it’s not my favorite of the leafy greens. It has an earthiness that I feel is an acquired taste. I can handle any kale you throw at me. I love mustard greens, bok choy, cabbage, collards, arugula, you name it. Chard, however is a different story. I had to choke it down the other day when I tossed it with some pasta. The stems and ribs have a flavor that can be overpowering but I was determined to find a way to enjoy it. I’m happy to report that the sweet-tart dressing, the nutty flavor of the roasted cauliflower, and the earthy lentils provided the perfect counterpoint and allowed me to overcome my aversion.
Summer Lentil Salad with Swiss chard
1 small head cauliflower, chopped into small florets
2 to 3 medium carrots, scrubbed and grated
1/4 cup chopped, lightly toasted walnuts
3 tbsp Sicilian Lemon white balsamic vinegar*
1 1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence**
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup (dry/uncooked) French green lentils
2 tbsp coconut aminos or reduced-sodium tamari
1 tbsp onion flakes
1 bunch Swiss chard, washed, stemmed, and chopped into bite-size pieces
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the cauliflower florets on a parchment lined baking sheet and dry roast for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer florets to a large mixing bowl; add the grated carrots, walnuts, balsamic vinegar, Herbes de Provence, and the lemon juice. Toss to combine.
Meanwhile, add the lentils and 3 cups of water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a steady simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain any remaining water and rinse with cool water in a mesh strainer.
While the lentils are simmering, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut aminos and the onion flakes. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium-low and add the chard. Steam fry just until the greens are wilted. Do not overcook!
Add the cooked lentils and chard along with the pan juices to the cauliflower mixture. Toss to combine, add some freshly ground black pepper to taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary. The salad makes about 4 to 6 servings, and tastes best if chilled for at least an hour before consuming.
*If Lemon Balsamic Vinegar is not available, you can substitute 2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice (use the zest too), or white wine vinegar. In this instance, I’d recommend also adding a tablespoon of natural sweetener such as date nectar or pure maple syrup to balance the earthiness of the chard.
**Herbes de Provence is quite aromatic; I’d recommend starting with one teaspoon. Add a bit more if you’d like a more pronounced flavor.