Lentil Spinach Salad

There is what I call the loud hours. Some of you with children also call it the witching hour, which really is slightly erroneous, because we all know the hour is more like three hours. I see you nodding your heads, you know what I mean. Those hours between 4 and 7 in the afternoon when the kids are home from school, tired and perpetually hungry, and everything – and I mean everything – needs to be done. Somehow, between 4 and 7, we are expected to cram in homework, activities, rest time, cooking dinner, eating dinner, bathing, and bed time rituals. I think this is why wine was invented. Perhaps the monks felts badly for the parents in their parishes. Wine for mass? No, it’s for post witching hour.

At my house, there is also the secondary witching hour, between 7 and 8am. The slow and quiet start to the day slowly builds into a cacophony of silliness – as their brain cells begin to awake, so does the noise, and as I shut the door to the car to send them off to school, I turn around and reenter my quiet house. Quiet. Stillness.

As much as I adore my children, I have those moments when I breath a sigh of relief and gratefulness to the angels called teachers. And this is my time to do what I need to do. And eat what I want to eat. This Lentil Spinach Salad is one of them. A punchy vinaigrette tossed in some fresh spinach leaves, with a generous handful of black beluga lentils. My salad becomes a meal unto itself when I add a poached egg, some asparagus and crispy shallots. It is wholesome, it is refreshing, and it is especially satisfying, especially when eaten in silence.

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Lentil Spinach Salad

Yield: Serves 4.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

What I love best about this salad is that its components can be prepared well in advance. You can poach the eggs, steam asparagus, cook the lentils, and even make the dressing beforehand, and call them into action the following day, whether you are preparing your salad for a party of four, or just yourself.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup black beluga lentils
4 cups spinach
8 spears asparagus
2 oz goat cheese
4 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise
4 eggs

Dressing
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 shallot, finely minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Directions:

Bring lentils to a boil in a cup of water, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until just tender. Drain and rinse, and chill until ready to assemble salad.

Steam the asparagus, till brilliant green and almost tender, and then place in an ice bath to cool. Slice into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal. Chill until ready to assemble salad.

Poach your eggs. I like these tips on how to poach an egg. You can also do this in advance and reheat if you like.

Prepare the dressing by combining garlic, shallot, balsamic vinegar, mustard, water, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk well.

Using half of the dressing, lightly toss the spinach. Place on each salad plate. Top with a handful of lentils, asparagus, and a poached egg. In a shallow pan, fry the shallots in a little olive oil until crispy and drain on paper towels. Top the salad with the crispy shallots and some crumbled goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with additional dressing on the side.

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by Liren Baker on April 25, 2012

12 Responses to “Lentil Spinach Salad”

  1. Platanos, Mangoes and Me! April 25, 2012 @ 9:45 am (#
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    What a lovely salad…picture perfect.

  2. Laura (Tutti Dolci) April 25, 2012 @ 2:50 pm (#
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    I’ve never tried lentils on a salad, but now you’ve inspired me. Crispy shallots are a fantastic idea as a topper, and I love the sound of that dressing!

  3. Jennifer (Delicieux) April 25, 2012 @ 4:36 pm (#
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    What a gorgeous salad Liren! This definitely my type of salad, and the poached egg definitely makes it a meal. Gorgeous.

  4. Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet } April 25, 2012 @ 7:19 pm (#
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    What a simply delicious salad! Love the flavors, textures and combination. Hope that you get some quiet time for yourself with the loud hours coming about. Just got home and enjoying the rain and contemplating what to make for dinner. Wish I had all of these ingredients to make this lovely salad. :-)

  5. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts April 25, 2012 @ 8:09 pm (#
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    Sounds like a healthy, gorgeous salad! So full of great ingredients!

  6. i was just taking today with some friends. we’re planning on home-schooling Tiffany. I’ll have to deal with her all day long, well, just like now, but for many years from now on. Sometimes this thought scares me :))
    this lentil salad sounds like the perfect spring-summer lunch.

  7. Nami | Just One Cookbook April 26, 2012 @ 9:42 am (#
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    I’ve never heard of the word witching hour before – learned something new today. :-) From your gorgeous pictures, it’s hard to see you have witching hour (haha!) but I know what you mean as I feel the same. I wish I can drink wine to calm down but I am more of a chocolate person as I’m not a big drinker. :-) Your salad with poached egg looks so good. I don’t eat lentils much but learned there is a way to eat like this. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Sandra's Easy Cooking April 27, 2012 @ 8:01 am (#
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    I totally understand what you are saying..I have three, with one still home I can’t wait until he starts this fall so I can enjoy my mornings (fully ) too!:))) I know it seems harsh but it is full time job once they come home..I am also so grateful for teaches:))) I don’t drink soooo wine don’t do anything for me:)
    Your salad look absolutely amazing! Love to try it sometimes!

  9. Jean April 27, 2012 @ 8:22 am (#
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    What is it about a simple poached egg that automatically elevates a salad? You and I really do have the same ideas about food.

    Those quiet times are priceless–and I’m enjoying mine right now with a cup of tea. Have a great weekend, Liren!

  10. Magic of Spice April 29, 2012 @ 11:01 am (#
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    Such a delightful salad…love the texture contrasts, especially with the poached egg!

  11. myfudo April 30, 2012 @ 2:06 am (#
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    I love preparing everything in advance. Allows me time to adjust with errors and kitchen mishaps…And I definitely agree with your thoughts on the secret hour – when you have to wave your magic wand and be creative and channel all the energies into something interesting, otherwise everything turns into disaster and I turn into a frog…LOL! Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

  12. Gay February 10, 2014 @ 5:56 am (#
    12
    )

    Αwesome article.

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