Recently when I was semi-drunk (after drinking with my fellow Brighton foodies, Fran a.ka. Graphic Foodie and Beth a.k.a Dirty Kitchen Secrets) the urge to eat struck, which lead us to Bill’s for some late-night munchies. Despite my inebriated status I was lucid enough to order salad (massive props to me). That salad contained caramelised shallots and those caramelised shallots positively made sweet love to my mouth. I mean they really got down and dirty with my taste buds. So, ever since I started these here salad diaries (vol 1, 2, and 3) I just knew that I had to try to recreate those caramelised shallots for your dining pleasure. And my friends… I did it. The shallots in this salad are literally going to blow your mind.
My sister came down this weekend and when I told her that I was cooking lentil and brown rice salad, I think I detected a little look of disappointment flash across her face. Well sure, it doesn’t sound sexy. It sounds healthy and boring and no one wants healthy and boring. However when I set the plate down, with the walnuts and caramelised shallots nuzzling amongst the rice and lentils, and the poached salmon reclining on top, she knew…. oh, she knew that something special was about to happen in her mouth.
And it did. And It can happen in your mouth too… do it.
Warm puy lentil & brown rice salad (with caramelised shallots)
For two hungry sisters (with seconds)
For the caramelised shallots
- 1lb shallots
- 15g butter
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon (and a bit) of red wine vinegar
- sea salt and pepper
For the lentils
- 75g puy lentils (merchant gourmet ones don’t need soaking)
- 1 glove garlic, crushed
- 1 pint chicken stock
- sea salt and pepper
For the rest of the salad
- 100g walnut halves
- 250g steamed brown rice
- a small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped (retain the stalks for poaching the salmon if you like)
- a handful of rocket
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
First off cook your brown rice and then set aside. Then prepare your shallots. Preheat your oven to 200°C and peel your shallots, leaving the root intact (trimming it back as much as possible). Melt your butter in an oven-proof frying pan and add the shallots and sugar. Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the shallots start to brown. Add the red wine vinegar, season well with salt and pepper and toss well to coat.
Put the shallots in the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes until your shallots are tender and lovely and caramelised. Turn the oven off and leave to cool slowly in the oven.
Meanwhile, heat a couple lugs of oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the walnuts for a minute or so. Remove the walnuts with a slotted spoon and put aside.
Now add the crushed garlic and fry for a minute or so before adding the puy lentils. Toss the lentils until they are completely in the oil and then pour in enough chicken stock to cover the lentils in the pan. Season with salt and pepper, then turn the heat down and simmer gently until the lentils are tender (if you need to keep adding more stock until the lentils are ready).
Once your lentils are ready, drain them and leave to cool slightly (not completely, you want them to be warm). Then mix with your rice, caramelised shallots, parsley and rocket.
Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar and toss well. Check the dressing and the seasoning and adjust to taste.
I served the salad along with a lovely piece of poached salmon. Jeezy crizzy, it was good.
Bring a pan to the boil and add a bouquet garni of parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Add the parsley stalks leftover from the salad, the juice of one lemon (you can chuck the lemon half in too), an extra bay leaf and a few peppercorns. Then poach the salmon fillet for around 8-10 minutes.