This is one of those recipes which really does not sound or look that exciting but always tastes much more than its sum of ingredients. I think it is the combination of chilli and celery which is such a refreshing mix of hot (spicy) and cold, the nutty lentils and really good olive oil which works so well.
Make sure you choose Lentils which hold their texture when cooked like Le Puy Lentils or Castelluccio. There should be more vegetables in proportion to the lentils. You can add other vegetables that you have to hand such as peppers of any colour or fennel. Adjust the amounts of all the ingredients according to your taste.
Lentil Salad with Celery, Carrots, Chilli and Parsley
Serves 8 as a side
200g carrots, chopped very finely
200g celery, peeled and chopped very finely
200g cucumber, seeds removed and chopped very finely
1 Fresh red chilli
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Large handful of parsley, roughly chopped
Cook the lentils in plenty of salted cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes until just cooked. Do not over cook as they will not retain their texture which is very important for this salad. When cooked, drain and allow to cool. When still warm, mix with the dressing of freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper. Be generous, it should be quite juicy. Allow to cool completely before mixing with all the other ingredients. Adjust seasoning. Serve scattered with a little more freshly chopped parsley. Try using some leaves of baby gem lettuce as a “spoon.”