Lentils and Mozzarella 4.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Weeknight Vegetarian Jan 8, 2014

Creamy, fresh mozzarella pairs well with earthy lentils, sharpened with a mustardy vinaigrette, in this midwinter dish.

Serve with bread as an appetizer or salad, or as a side dish, either warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead: The cooked lentils and the vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Servings:
4

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, scrubbed well then finely chopped
  • 1 cup dried French du Puy lentils, rinsed
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chives, basil or mint, or a combination, finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced or torn into bite-size pieces
  • Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds (see NOTE; may substitute pine nuts)

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic, celery and carrot; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add the lentils, 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt and just enough water to cover. Increase the heat to bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat so it is barely bubbling around the edges; cook until the lentils are just soft, 30 to 35 minutes. Drain the lentils.

While the lentils are cooking, combine the mustard, vinegar, herbs, 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt, and pepper to taste in the bowl of a food processor or blender, or in a small mixing bowl. Drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of oil, pulsing or whisking by hand to form a vinaigrette. Taste, and add fine sea salt as needed.

Spoon the warm lentils onto plates. Top with the mozzarella, and sprinkle the cheese with coarse sea salt. Scatter the almonds over the mozzarella and lentils, and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown and fragrant, shaking the pan to keep the nuts from scorching. Cool completely before using.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite," by Sarah Copeland (Chronicle Books, 2013).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

E-mail questions to the Food Section.

E-mail questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.