A deliciously simple salad, for a fuss-free summer meal. Rinse some peppery lentils from a packet, roughly chop some sweet and juicy tomatoes, tear in a little fragrant fresh basil, and mix together with a fool-proof, 3-ingredient dressing. What could be easier?
One of the challenges of being a vegan on holiday is that you don’t necessarily have access to all of your preferred food brands/substitutes/excessive collection of spices, not to mention the different interpretations of ‘kitchen essentials’ in holiday rentals. But scarcity is the mother of invention, and on a recent family holiday to rural France, this lentil salad recipe made a surprisingly tasty and nourishing meal, in trying culinary circumstances.
This recipe came about because firstly, I got carried away with the exciting array of tomatoes on offer and bought far too many, and secondly, despite limited vegan protein options, the French have an appropriately high regard for lentils. French lentils (sometimes called lentilles vertes or puy lentils) are small and peppery, and less floury than some other varieties. You can cook them from dried with a little vegetable stock, but it’s much quicker if you use tinned or ready-to-eat. The only other ingredients are fresh basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. It is really quite satisfying when so few ingredients come together to make something so delicious.
- You don’t need a bouquet of multi-coloured tomatoes from a French farmers market for this recipe to work, but the better quality tomatoes you are able to get, the more delicious your salad.
- If you can’t find lentilles vertes or puy lentils, there are plenty of others that would suffice. In the UK I’ve seen ready-to-eat versions of beluga, brown, and green lentils, all or which would be good alternatives.
- I find that red wine vinegar really complements the peppery lentils, but you could use sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar instead.
- This salad makes an excellent lunch, served simply with some salad leaves and crusty bread, or as part of a spread of salads. You could stir in some additional salad vegetables such as spring onions or raw pepper, or scatter in some baby leaf spinach.
Tomato, Lentil and Basil Salad
A salad as tasty as it is easy to make! Minimal time, minimal ingredients, but plenty of flavour.
- 250g (1 x 400g/14oz tin) cooked french lentils, puy lentils, or lentilles vertes
- 200g good quality fresh tomatoes (approx. 2 medium)
- small bunch of fresh basil
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1–2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Thoroughly rinse the lentils, then leave to drain. Roughly chop the tomatoes.
- In a large bowl, crush or finely grate 1 garlic clove. Add 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar and ½ tsp of salt, and whisk together.
- Tip the lentils and tomatoes into the bowl with the dressing. Take the fresh basil and remove the leaves. Tear or roughly chop them into small pieces and add to the salad. Add a few grinds of black pepper, then stir until everything is coated in the dressing. Taste and add a bit more vinegar or seasoning if necessary.
- Serve immediately with some salad leaves and crusty bread, or keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.