This is a meal meant for grown ups. It is possible that there is a child out there somewhere who might be into the idea of eating it, but I do not happen to know that child, and it’s rather likely that, were I to meet said child, I might just happen to be struck with a twinge of jealousy over the child’s adventurous eating habits. For, my child may love a big pot of heavily spiced black beans, but show him a spoonful of lentils and he will retreat in the other direction.
It’s funny how these things happen. I have to admit, as a child I was no fan of whole beans, but I would submit to eating refried beans. I also had a strong distaste for curry powder (really, I still sort of do), but I was rather fond of things that were flavored with many of the same spices that appear in curry powder. My son, who will graze amongst our vegetable garden, plucking and eating leaves off of our herb plants and nibbling large chunks of lettuce leaves, will not go near a salad, even one that I have so lovingly deconstructed on his plate, with lettuce sitting next to bell peppers, bell peppers next to cucumber. By the end of our meal, the bell pepper and cucumber will be gone, but the lettuce will always remain. I am used to it now.
And so, on a rare weekday afternoon that my husband and I had together, sans child, I decided that I would make us a decidedly adult lunch. A pot of red lentils, spiced with cumin and ginger, provided the inspiration for what was to eventually become one of my favorite lunches in recent memory. Piled on a bed of fresh arugula, paired with a knob of tangy chevre, and finished with a perfectly poach egg, it was the type of lunch I dream of having everyday. The crisp, spicy greens worked wonders against the creamy cheese and rich egg yolk, and the lentils provided a spot on touch of earthiness to bring everything together. With the school year officially over, and my son home every afternoon, it may be a long time before I am able to lunch like this again. Or maybe I’ll just spend the next three months trying to impart upon my son the joyous and wondrous merits of lentils. Of course, having just read those words, I now think I might have to spend the next three months trying to convince people that I am not insane.
Warm Red Lentil Salad with Poached Eggs
Adapted from The New Cook, by Donna Hay
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons whole cumin seeds
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and finely minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 cup red lentils
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
12 ounces fresh arugula
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
½ teaspoon white vinegar
4 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add lentils to pan and, stirring to coat with oil, cook for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of stock and, stirring frequently, allow lentils to absorb liquid. Continue adding stock 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently after each addition, until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in mint and cilantro.
Fill a medium to small saucepan about halfway with water, then add vinegar. Heat water over medium heat until it is just below simmering. Crack an egg into a small dish or teacup. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently swirl the water in the saucepan and create a small whirlpool, then pour the egg into the center of the whirlpool. Allow the egg to poach for 3 to 4 minutes, until the whites have set but the yolks are still runny. Remove egg with a slotted spoon and place on a layer of paper towels. Continue poaching eggs, one at a time.
To assemble a salad, pile a large handful of arugula onto a large plate or shallow bowl. Add a large scoop of lentils, a knob of goat cheese, and top with a poached egg. Sprinkle on a pinch of salt and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper.
Makes 4 salads.
|About the contributor:|
|Elizabeth Miller is a freelance writer who runs Savory Salty Sweet, a food and kitchen appreciation website. She also writes the Melting Pot column here on Indie Fixx, which appears bimonthly on Fridays. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.|