According to Sarah Copeland, caprese salad doesn't always need to include tomatoes and basil. Whether or not we take that as indisputable truth, it would be impossible not to enjoy her four seasonal variations on the salad in her new cookbook, Feast. Each salad uses mozzarella as a link to the classic. There are peas in the spring, beets in the fall, tomatoes (of course) in summer, and lentils in this winter version. The legumes are simmered with carrots, celery, and garlic; studded with bocconcini and pine nuts; and then drizzled with an herby vinaigrette. Served warm or cool, it's a fine side dish or snack, even if it isn't a classic caprese.
Why I picked this recipe: Lentil salads are one of my wintertime staples, but I'd never had one with mozzarella.
What worked: Much like yesterday's salad, this dish is an example of simplicity done right. I especially liked the way the earthy lentils were countered by the creamy, cool mozzarella.
What didn't: Nothing.
Suggested tweaks: You can use any herbs you'd like here. I used mostly parsley with a little bit of mint thrown in. Walnuts would also work well in place of the pine nuts.
Reprinted with permission from Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite by Sarah Copeland. Copyright 2013. Published by Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 cup (185 g) green or brown lentils, rinsed
- Sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- Handful assorted fresh herbs such as dill, chives, basil, or mint, finely chopped
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup (510 g) fresh bocconcini mozzarella, torn, or mozzarella, sliced
- Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic, celery, and carrot and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add the lentils, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until just soft, 30 to 35 minutes. Drain the lentils.
Meanwhile, pulse together the mustard, vinegar, and herbs in a food processor or blender, or whisk together by hand. Drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil and pulse or whisk to bring together. Add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and season with pepper. Taste and add more salt as needed.
Spoon the warm lentils onto plates. Top with the mozzarella and sprinkle the mozzarella with coarse sea salt. Top the lentils and mozzarella with the pine nuts and drizzle with the herb vinaigrette. Serve warm or at room temperature.