the definitive guide to salad – part 5 legumes

puy lentils lentil salad with bbq zucchini

I’ve always been a little unclear of the correct terminology for lentils and peas and their friends. So I thought I’d take the time and look it up.

Apparently the legume family includes alfalfa, clover (no wonder sheep love it), peas, beans, lentils, lupins, soy, chickpeas and peanuts. According to Wikipedia legumes are the only types of plant that are able to take in nitrogen from the atmosphere and turn it into protein. So they tend to have a higher protein content than other non-legume plants, which makes them an excellent option for anyone looking to boost their protein intake without relying on animal sources.

It also makes them a perfect addition to salad, particularly if you are looking to serve it as a main course.

The stonesoup recipe index is a testament to my love of legume salads particularly lentils and chickpeas. I’m planning on doing a highlights tour of stonesoup salads at the end of this series but for now let me point your attention in the direction of two of my easiest and favourite legume salads.

First is a simple dish of chickpeas with parmesan cheese – simple enough to be able to be made with just a teaspoon. The other uses canned lentils – a new addition to my pantry. If you’re a lentil fan, I highly recommend my warm lentil salad with beets and ricotta.

Or there’s always a brilliant little number inspired by my current obsession – Nigel Slater. A combo of some of my all time favourite things – puy lentils, BBQ zucchini and proscitto or jamon. Just the thing for a long lovely Monday lunch with a dear old friend who is also currently free from corporate commitments.

lentil salad with bbq zucchini  & proscuitto

lentil salad with BBQ zucchini & proscuitto

serves 2

Inspired by Nigel Slater from Tender Volume 1. A cook and his vegetable patch.

Nigel salts his zucchini (courgettes) for an hour or so but I find it cooks just fine without it. And the minimalist in me prefers to save the time.

If you were after a vegetarian meal you could serve the salad with some goats cheese instead of the proscuitto or even toast up some pinenuts to make it more substantial.

Well washed, drained canned lentils could substitute in if you didn’t feel like cooking your own. About half a can would work in place of the dried lentils.

75g (3oz) small green lentils
1T red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, lightly crushed but still mostly whole
2T extra virgin olive oil
3 medium zucchini, finely sliced lengthwise into ribbons
2T olive oil
3 sprigs flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
100g (4oz) proscuitto, finely sliced to serve

Place lentils in a small saucepan. Cover with water and simmer until lentils are tender. Approx 15 mins. Drain.

Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, oil and garlic and season well. Toss the drained lentils through the dressing.

Preheat your BBQ or a char grill pan. Toss zucchini ribbons in the oil and season. Cook over a medium high heat until soft and well marked. Fish out and discard the garlic and toss the zucchini through the lentil mixture and add parsley.

Divide salad between two plates and serve with proscuitto passed separately.

lentil salad with bbq zucchini


The stonesoup definitive guide to salad.
Part 1 – Leaves
Part 2 – Dressings
Part 3 – Grains, Nuts & Seeds
Part 4 – Bread
Part 5 – Legumes

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  • Aha, a chance for a lentil question… (is it weird that I have a lentil question stored up??).. anyway, I used to use Puy Lentils in London but have not found them here easily – however, I was told (read/dreamt) that that’s because they’re under a different name here and I’m looking for the wrong thing. Did you buy them under a different name? and if not, where did you find them.. I’m craving all salads at the moment so your series has been a lifesaver.. Roll on March and a lessening of the humidity…

  • hey claire
    I think it’s very healthy to have a supply of lentil questions.
    you can get real puy lentils in Oz. DJs food hall has them and Jones the Grocer but they tend to be pretty pricey. there are local producers who grow that variety and they’re usually called ‘french style green lentils. Norton St grocer stocks a couple of different brands which are good. Mount Zero have them on their online store but it doesn’t seem to be working at the moment
    best of luck with lentil sourcing

  • Hi Jules,
    I was so inspired by your latest entry that I made this tonight! It was soooo delicious. I also made a yummy green salad to go with it and used the dressing for that as well. So yum.
    Thanks so much! I love your photography. How did you learn to be such an amazing photog??

  • I keep a can of lentils in the pantry – used to feel embarrassed because lentils are so easy to cook but on a busy day it is a lifesaver and I can rustle up a meal in a salad quickly – must try the lentils and grilled zucchini idea soon

  • Beautiful salad, with great textures and colours. Legumes are wonderful things, are they not? :) Their ability to fix nitrogen also makes them invaluable in crop rotation, so hooray for doing your bit to get everyone to eat more of them!

  • hey conor.
    of course legumes are critical in crop rotation…thanks for pointing that out

    never feel embarassed about things in cans. I had some canned asparagus when I was cleaning out my dad’s pantry the other day and we both really loved it. completely nothing related to fresh asparagus but so soft and mushy – OK don’t really expect anyone else to believe me on that

    so happy that you enjoyed the salad. it’s seriously great hey. but you really should be thanking nigel slater. he was the brains behind this one

  • Johanna, my russle together salad requires a tin of lentils, frozen peas, chopped red onion, crumbled feta and mint…and you have a salad in the time it takes to boil the kettle and pour the water over the peas until they cook. But I have noticed the quality of tinned lentils varies considerably…I use the Annalisa brand.

  • thanks for sharing under_exposed – sounds like a great quick dinner.
    I agree with you on canned lentil variability. I’m a fan of annalisa as well

  • I just found french style lentils in Coles!!! I shouldn’t be this excited.

    Love the idea of eating noodles as pasta – your next post which makes me sound psychic (which sounds odd cause of course they are pasta, but I digress..) I have a son who won’t eat most pasta (very very VERY frustrating) so I will see if this works.

    Babbling.. sorry – better put the shopping away including my new lentils..

  • OMG claire – french green lentils in coles. I’m happy to hear that. hope they’re good.
    and a child that doesn’t eat pasta – haven’t heard of that before

  • Just made the lentil, beet and ricotta salad for supper – with the french green lentils, and it was grand! I confess to cooking the lentils with bay, onion and celery to boost the flavour, and apart from the slight hiccup when I boiled them dry (only briefly and I think a toasty flavour adds a certain je ne sais quoi..) this is staying in my “must cook” folder. I also added chorizo which I think definitely made it even better (but then I’ve never ever added chorizo to anything and regretted it!)..

    Once more, a recipe from you has come up trumps. Many thanks!

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