Lentil salad

In Paris, at a restaurant, alone, on my 60th birthday (not complaining, I’d take that any day) I had this salad. It was a Sunday, and May 8th is a holiday in Paris, of course, Victory in Europe Day. The day the war ended. NOTHING was open. Sundays are dicey anyway and a holiday. Forget it. I wandered around pathetically looking for somewhere, anywhere to eat. Eventually, after walking by this passable, not all that lovely restaurant a few times (I seem to have been walking in circles)  I decided to sit down there, hungry, defeated in my frantic search, at a table outside. Besides I was ready to have a glass of wine rather than have the waiters, who were standing outside, watch me pass by yet another time. What the hell, having a mediocre meal isn’t as bad as having a 60th birthday.

But it was wonderful. The smoking waiter who had watched me pass repeatedly was very accommodating and pretended I spoke French (which is enough to lure me into anywhere) and the people at the next table were friendly (which means they nodded sympathetically at me). The wine was great and I had this incredible salad that I have made my own.

Recipe follows. 

Victory in Europe Salad

1 cup of lentils

3 cups of chicken stock (water works fine)

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 cup sliced celery

1/4 cup shredded carrots

1/4 or so vinaigrette

Salt and pepper

First take the lentils and soak them in a few cups of water with 

a tsp of baking soda for a half hour or so.

Drain and rinse.

Bring the stock and lentils to a boil, reduce to low, covered, and simmer for 30 minutes. 

Drain and allow to cool for 10-20 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. 

Pour vinaigrette onto the lentils while still warm and toss. 

When cool add other ingredients and toss. 

Shallot Caper Vinaigrette

1 shallot chopped, about 2 TB

2 TB dijon mustard

2 TB wine wine vinegar

Whisk this all together and slowly

add while whisking:

6 – 10 TB olive oil

Salt and pepper

Once you have the vinaigrette to a lovely rich consistency add;

2 TB brined capers and a little brine

This stuff lasts for a while in the refrigerator, 

let it sit at room temp 

for a while and re-whisk before using.

Purple potato salad

You cannot see it well in these pictures but these potatoes are purple. Like PURPLE inside. And not a nurturing purple like beets, a purple-y purple like Mickey Mouse chose the color. I made a french potato salad with my favorite vinaigrette with shallots and capers. I put the dressing on when the potatoes were still hot and they soaked it up. I later added sliced red onions (too bad Peggy) and celery and right before I served it cut parsley onto the top of it. It was lovely. Well, and pretty, in an oddly chromatically challenging, nearly inedible way.

But it was edible. very much so, my picky friend John had seconds. No matter the disturbing color.

Watermelon

I love watermelon. Any melon really, except for honeydew, which I totally don’t get. Growing up we had muskmelon in our garden. They were always the best, if you could get to them before the raccoons. The problem I have with melons I buy now, well, I have a few of them. You never know how it’s gonna taste, I hate getting one home only to discover it has no taste. They are huge in the refrigerator, and some of them make the refrigerator stink.

At least I have solved the problem of the crappy tasting watermelon. I put it in salad. Even lousy watermelon is good when you put vinaigrette on it. Last night, being lazy, I used vaguely passable bottled Italian. But when I made my own shallot, caper vinaigrette and used pretty good (as opposed to really good) olive oil it was AMAZING. Full disclosure, it is Karen’s vinaigrette recipe but I have made it mine.

Shallot caper vinaigrette

1 shallot chopped, about 2 TB

2 TB dijon mustard

2 TB wine wine vinegar

Whisk this all together and slowly

add while whisking:

6 – 10 TB olive oil

Salt and pepper

Once you have the vinaigrette to a lovely rich consistency add;

2 TB brined capers and a little brine

This stuff lasts for a while in the refrigerator, let it sit at room temp 

for a while and re-whisk before using.