A newspaper article about school lunches around the world inspired this recipe. While our kids are eating turkey hot dogs, students in France apparently are feasting on ham and lentils, a traditional French combination. Jealous of that Gallic entree, I modernized the idea with this salad, in which the ham is moved from main focus to accessory. Diced apple adds an American accent. The change in proportions makes this a well-balanced lunch dish when served along with whole-grain bread or as a side at dinner with roast chicken.
Make Ahead: The dish can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring it to room temperature before serving.
Yield: Makes 5 1/2 cups
- 1 cup dried green lentils (about 7 ounces)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion
- Kosher salt
- 1 large or 2 small, sweet, crisp apples, peeled, cored and cut into generous 1/4-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 4 ounces low-sodium smoked ham, trimmed of all fat, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Place the lentils in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Partially cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low or as needed so the water is barely bubbling at the edges. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the lentils are just tender. Drain the lentils and transfer them to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, heat half of the oil in a medium nonstick skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, stirring to coat; reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 4 minutes, until the onion has softened. Stir in the apple(s); cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until just softened.
Add the ham and stir to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the ham has heated through. Add the onion-ham mixture to the drained lentils.
Whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, the vinegar, mustard and honey in a liquid measuring cup to form an emulsified dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the lentil mixture, then add the parsley. Toss gently to incorporate and coat well. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
From Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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