This is a bright, hearty, and optimistic salad. Admittedly, it's also a total knock-off of my go-to dish at my favorite French restaurant in London, La Petite Maison, which specializes in taking Provençal peasant food and reinventing it at the height of sophistication. The salad is simple, but unexpected: firm little du Puy lentils, finely diced apple and fennel, some bright herbs (I use Greek basil and fresh thyme), and a very fresh, loose vinaigrette made from olive oil and cider vinegar. It's nice to know that some of the most basic food—a fruit, a vegetable, and the lowly, humble lentil—can come together in something unexpected and above the ordinary. It's like a Cinderella salad.
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 medium fennel bulb, finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 apple (recommended: Pink Lady), peeled and finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 8 ounces baby plum tomatoes, finely diced
- 2 (14.5-ounces) cans of Puy lentils, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper until the sugar dissolves. Add in the olive oil, and whisk until emulsified. Add the water, and whisk to loosen. Add the fennel, apple, and tomatoes, toss to combine, and allow to sit in the vinaigrette for 15 minutes. Finally, add the lentils and fresh herbs, and allow to sit another 15 minutes. Serve.