In Vegan Family Meals, author Ann Gentry admits that vegan cooking has come a long ways, especially with the availability of natural foods and more exotic ingredients at mainstream supermarkets. Gentry includes some herbs, spices and ingredients that are less well-known, but takes the time to introduce them to readers and explain how best to use them in cooking. She also includes interesting nutritional information for a lot of ingredients. Like how, pound for pound, leafy greens supply more vitamins than red meat. Or, how coconut water is an excellent source of potassium.
This lentil salad makes a great entrée, but would also be a great side dish at summer cookouts. I thought the onion and garlic would overpower the dish, but they added just the right amount of kick.
Cool French Lentil and Fennel Salad
Serves 4 to 6 (makes about 6 cups)
3 cups water
1 cup dried French lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1 small white onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
3 celery stalks, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, lightly steamed, then cooled
1/2 cup finely diced fennel
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the water, lentils, and bay leaf in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain, remove the bay leaf, and let the lentils cool completely.
Whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, and dill in a large bowl to blend. Add the cooled lentils, the onion, celery, cucumber, corn, and fennel. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.