By Riki Shore
Now that Fall’s here, I like to prepare hearty salads for lunch. They’re a great way to use leftover meats, and if you have the vinaigrette already on hand, they come together in a snap. I’ve written this recipe to use roasted chicken, but this salad combines just as well with leftover lamb or beef.
Puy lentils are also called French green lentils. They’re slightly smaller than other lentils, and although they take a little longer to prepare, they hold their shape well during cooking.
The mustard vinaigrette here makes a great all-purpose salad dressing. Feel free to double or triple the quantities and save the leftover dressing in a tightly lidded jar in the fridge. It will keep for 4 – 5 days. The finished salad keeps well overnight.
1 cup Puy lentils
2 cups water
2 sprigs parsley or 1 celery rib with leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon parsley
2 cups cold chopped chicken, leftover from roasted chicken
1. Rinse the lentils in a strainer and place in a heavy pot with the parsley or celery rib. Cover with water, bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, 30 – 40 minutes. The lentils should be cooked, but still al dente. Toss the warm lentils with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to moisten.
2. Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Add the remaining olive oil and whisk well to emulsify. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
3. Gently mash the capers with the side of a heavy knife, and finely chop the parsley.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the lentils, chicken, capers and parsley. Stir well, then toss with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.
In the picture below, I fancied it up with chopped avocado, crumbled feta and snipped chives. Feel free to put your own personal twist on this recipe – you can’t go wrong.