Lentil-Peach Salad with Lime-Agave Dressing
Last year while visiting the Mayan Riviera we had dinner at the famed Hartwood restaurant in Tulum. The restaurant became famous after Bon Apetit magazine did an article about the chef-owner and his wife (from NYC) and since then the line-ups to go into this no-reservation policy restaurant have been increasing as I believe have the prices. I was motivated to write a review of our experience at the restaurant and you can find it here in the travel section of this blog. The review also appeared on Trip Advisor under the title “Good, but bring a flashlight”, and garnered a number of helpful votes. Why am I telling you all this? because at dinner there I had a lovely lentil salad with peaches and cucumbers that was the inspiration for this recipe.
I cannot remember exactly what the lentil salad at Hartwood contained beyond my recollection in the article but I do remember it had peaches and also remember wondering where they got peaches from in the middle of the winter (Dec) to that corner of the world. Oh well, I have plenty of peaches here now as summer is coming to an end and remembered that salad as I was pondering what to do with the Spanish lentils I had just finished cooking. That’s what made me think of that distant lentil salad at Hartwood. Told ya, food memories are the best. They take you right back to places you otherwise would have forgotten.
I have had these little greenish-brown Spanish lentils in the pantry waiting their turn to contribute their “stuff” to one of the dishes I prepare in my kitchen. I finally got around to them and cooked them simply, with vegetable stock, onion and a few herbs until just done, still holding their beautiful shape and have a soft bite still left in them, not mush. Now what? I thought I’d make them into a lentil salad and that’s when I remembered the peaches in Tulum.
I retrievd the article and saw that the salad had peaches, cucumbers, chopped ripe tomatoes, beets (maybe?) roasted pepitas and queso fresco settled on top. I had lovely peaches from my last market foray, as well as tomatoes, cucumbers and pepitas. No beets. I wanted to keep this vegan so I didn’t use the cheese and thought I’d use walnuts instead of pepitas. I didn’t remember how they dressed their salad but I assume it was something simple and authentic from local ingredients, like oil, lime juice, jalapeño and maybe a drizzle of agave. I can do that. So this is how this salad came about. I may make it differently the next time I make it, you never know.
1 cup spanish lentils (Beluga or Du Pui lentils can also work as they hold their shape when cooked)
1 small onion stuck with 2 cloves
1 carrot scrubbed and cut in 2 pieces
3 cups vegetable stock
2 small cucumbers
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 green onion, chopped, white and green parts
1 peach, cut into small cubes
Juice from a wedge of lemons
1/3 cup walnuts or pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
A handful of micro green, arugula or baby greens
Go through the lentils to remove any foreign earthy matters, then rinse well and drain.
Place lentils in a pot together with onion (stuck with a clove), carrots and vegetable stock or water. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a steady simmer and cook, partially covered, until the lentils are cooked through but still hold their shape. Remove and discard onion and carrot, drain the lentils and set aside to cool.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds with a spoon or a melon baller and cut into 1/4 inch C shape pieces. Add to lentils.
Halve the cherry tomatoes and add to lentils.
Cut the peach into small dice, toss with the juice from the lemon wedge to prevent discolouration and add to lentils.
Add the chopped green onion and the walnuts or pepitas and mix the salad gently.
Drizzle with a little of the salad dressing and add salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle some micro greens or other green over the salad and mix them in lightly.
Serve at room temperature.
Juice of one lime
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced
1 tablespoon agave syrup or to taste
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
Place the lime juice in a glass dish. Add salt and whisk to combine. Add agave and mix.
Slowly drizzle the oil into the lime juice whisking constantly to emulsify. After you have added 1/3 cup of the oil taste the dressing and decide if you need the remaining oil. depending on the acidity balance.
Add jalapeño and chopped lime zest.
Taste and correct the seasoning.