After many years in San Francisco, I have just moved to Portland, Oregon! I am thrilled to be here. I was so ready to shift away from an intensely urban life, I missed the rain desperately, and I am excited to live somewhere that is not dominated by the side effects of the tech economy.
I am so happy to be here. I know that I’ll miss my people, the unbelievable produce, (the fog), and that spicy, rosy-hued mythology that colors California, but being here just feels good. It feels calmer, and mellower, and of course, a million times more green, and I am beyond ready for this shift.
While change can be incredibly chaotic and disorienting, I love how it calls into question habits, patterns, necessities, luxuries. It is amazing to take a look at my life with a shaken-up perspective, and for all the upheaval of moving, I am honestly pretty stoked to be walking headlong into this period of change.
Cooking is one of the rituals that seems to anchor me most in the midst of upheaval. Because it’s impossible to stay indoors on a warm evening, my friends who are hosting me in the short-term invited some of their friends over for dinner, and we feasted in their backyard, on grilled salmon and this delightful lentil salad. I am a believer in salads that encompass all of the food groups, thereby offering something of a complete meal.
And between the earthiness of the lentils, the tart-sweet of the pluots, creamy salty good of the feta, and the sweet nuttiness of the hazelnuts, this just might be my new fave.
Like I said above, it is the marriage of so many flavors that makes this salad so vibrant: it is earthy, sweet, tart, crunchy, salty, and savory. If you can’t find pluots at the market, try a combination of tart plums and nectarines or peaches. Any stone fruit will work! But I happen to especially love the firmness and tartness of pluots or any other fun stone fruit hybrid: apriums, plumcots, etc.
Summer Pluot + Lentil Salad
For the lentils:
1 cup green or puy lentils, rinsed
Optional aromatics: 1 carrot, roughly chopped; 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped; 1 onion, halved; a few smashed garlic cloves; thyme or parsley leaves; 1 bay leaf.
For the salad:
8-10 cups mixed salad greens, washed and dried
2-3 stone pluots and plums, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup crumbled French feta
1/2 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts
Torn fresh basil leaves, optional
For the dressing:
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon honey
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
First, make the lentils. Rinse thoroughly and remove any tiny stones. In a large pot, add the lentils and aromatics of choice, and cover by about two inches with water. Bring to a boil, covered, and reduce heat to low, simmering until lentils are soft and cooked through, about 45 minutes. Set aside to cool in their liquid, then drain thoroughly in a colander. Season to taste with salt.
When the lentils have cooled, measure out about 1.5 cups of the lentils, and reserve the rest for future use. (More salads! In a scramble! In a soup!)
In a large mixing bowl, toss together the lentils, salad greens, sliced pluots and plums, feta, hazelnuts, and basil with the salad dressing. Serve immediately.
This post was created in partnership with the Canadian Lentil Board! As a lentil lover, it was a fun opportunity to create a new recipe with one of my favorite sources of protein. Projects like these sustain me as a freelancer. Thank you for your support!