It’s time for the best cherry tomato lentil salad ever. One with a delicious array of simple flavors. Summer flavors. Humble little beluga lentils with sweet roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes, garden fresh basil, parsley, zingy lemon, salty capers, sweet red onion and a sprinkling of lightly toasted pine nuts for extra flavor and a little crunch.
Summer holidays are the times when I am most grateful for these small, cute little protein-packed legumes. Beluga lentils have to be the most versatile thing ever for putting together a healthy and satisfying salad. You can pretty much be guaranteed to find these caviar-like lentils or French green Puy lentils (also great for salads) at any grocery store in the Mediterranean. Which is why during our travels through France this summer, we’ve enjoyed our fair share of them.
With all this heat, it’s been the perfect excuse to enjoy a chilled glas of rosé or rouge violette on ice with our light afternoon salad — and for two glorious days, this cherry tomato lentil salad. Enjoying wine also means enjoying the fantastic wine caves along the Côtes du Rhône wine route. Just the other day we toured a fantastic vineyard; a quant little “cave” called Domaine des Caminottes which only produces organic wine. Amazing organic wine. Which is why we left with a case of it! That’s about 4 bottle too many. We won’t possibly drink them all before we leave. Red wine in a suitcase. Do we risk it? Yes! With careful preparation…
This reminds me of the last time we decided to take alcohol in our suitcase. That was after three days of rocking it at “Rock im Park”. Mental note everyone. I do not listen to hard rock. But I have good friends who do. I also don’t do camping. As a Canadian girl, my childhood had enough of it to last a lifetime. ;-) But, as someone who is willing to try a number of things just once. I did. Check. Done. (In a hotel, of course). So anyhow, my favorite Schwabe completely forgot about the rules of travel as he proceeded through the security sporting his 1 liter bottle of gin. That would have been okay, but there were also 10 onlooking trainee officers watching. Which resulted in a whole lot of snickering as that big bottle of gin was confiscated. Mostly because our group of misfits and a number of other passengers cried out in disbelief. Not from our stupidity but rather the loss of a good bottle of gin.
Preparing this roasted cherry tomato lentil salad in advance
If you exclude the time needed for cooking the lentils then you could consider this roasted cherry tomato lentil salad a super quick recipe. I often cook my lentils the night before, let them cool and then store then in the fridge so that I can quickly put a salad together the next day. Which in this case, would mean you would have lunch or dinner on the table in a mere 20 minutes. But even putting it all together the day of only takes 45 minutes, including the time it takes for the lentils to cool off. Unless of course its 38 degrees like it has been in the Provence!
1 cup beluga lentils, rinsed (250 g)
300 g cherry tomatoes (or a mix of baby heirloom tomatoes)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 generous handful basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons capers (in brine), drained
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (25 g)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
juice from 1 lemon (about 4 tablespoons)
fresh parmesan shavings, to garnish (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C.
2. Place the lentils in a large saucepan, cover with plenty of water and bring to a boil (generally, lentils should be cooked at a 1:3 ratio, lentils to water). Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a large serving bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
TIP: I recommend tasting the lentils after about 25 minutes to see if they are the consistency you want — more firm (al dente) is best for salads.
3. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet. Spread them out, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft. Remove from the oven and set aside.
4. Add the red onion, parsley, basil, capers and toasted pine nuts to the bowl with the lentils.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, and the pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the lentils mixture.
6. Give everything a good toss. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if desired. Add the roasted tomatoes and lightly toss to incorporate.
7. Serve with parmesan shavings and enjoy!
Planning ahead: Lentils can also be cooked up to 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover and store in the refrigerator.