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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Random Food Fridays - Green Lentil and Sardine Salad

Well, it's been a while, and here I am with another salad. But, I do have fresh garden tomatoes for the salad! My garden is pretty small. I've never really had enough of anything from it to can a batch of sauce, jam or relish. Canning these tomatoes would seem kind of a shame, too. They are so pretty and delicious. Such a treat!

Here is the tomato corner of my little garden. They've done pretty good this year, considering this whole corner was a giant mud hole over the winter when we had to have our sewer line and water main replaced. Have no fear! No sewage was used in the growing of these fine tomatoes!

The two varieties shown on my plate are Old Yellow Candy Stripe and Tess's Land Race Currant. I ordered the seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Many heirlooms have to be started from seed. It's not as hard as I thought it would be. In Sacramento, we have mild winters and I can start my seeds outdoors as early as January, as long as I protect them in these little greenhouses. I use empty one-gallon milk or water containers, cut around the middle, leaving enough for a hinge. When the weather warms up and the seedlings get too tall, you just clip the hinge and let them toughen up a bit. I find this old school aluminum table also helps by being very reflective.

The Old Yellow Candy Strip is a determinate tomato, which means they all ripen at once and that's the end of your harvest. Right now, I have about a dozen very large juicy tomatoes awaiting my pleasure. (This guy even had a smile for me!) The current tomatoes, like many small tomatoes, will keep producing for a while. That kind is called indeterminate. Tess's Land Race Currant are an amazing experience. It's as if each one had all the flavor of a large tomato compacted into one juicy burst! They are perfect for adding to any kind of salad. I like to leave them whole, so I can get the yummy POP.

This salad is what people mean when they are talking about a healthy Mediterranean diet - lentils, omega-3 rich cold water fish, veggies and good extra virgin olive oil. I think people can be a little scared of sardines. People, they are so good! And good for you! And sustainable! And low on the food chain! (Meaning fewer heavy metals and toxins.) I get mine at my friendly neighborhood Costco - Wild Planet Wild Pacific Sardines packed in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If you can't commit to a 6 pack, Trader Joe's has some you can purchase one can at a time.

Green Lentil and Sardine Salad
1 cup dry whole green lentils
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
1 shallot, diced
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
1 tbsp. capers
zest of 1 lemon
2 cans of sardines in extra virgin olive oil (4.375 oz)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
Note: I was completely out of parsley, but that would make a very nice addition!

Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large clove garlic, mashed
2 tsp. country style Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. sugar

For the salad, place a medium sauce pan with 6 cups water over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the lentils and stir to prevent clumping. Return to simmer and continue to simmer until they are soft but still hold their shape - about 20 minutes. (Nothing beats the bite test for this.) Drain and rinse with cold water to cool. Add all other salad ingredients and toss.

For the dressing add all ingredient to a jar with a tightly fitting lid and shake. When the dressing is emulsified, toss it with the salad. I found that this salad took all of this dressing. The flavor will improve with a few hours of marination.

This makes 4 to 6 lunch time servings for me. It will serve more as a side dish.

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