Back to lentils, I'm still on my journey of discovering what you can do with them. Excellent source of fiber as they are – the more ways to eat them, the better – I say. There are more and more health-food or eco-food shops opening in Tallinn and I bought a pack of Puy lentils in one of them recently. According to my research puy lentils are considered to be one of the better ones. Their skins will hold nicely after cooking so they look pretty and don't fall apart as easily - this means they can be used for things that won't end up mashed or pureed or otherwise a bit of a mess. Like salad's for example. So this is what I went for, a nice cold-weather salad.
Warm salad with puy lentils, mushrooms and ham (Soe läätse, seene ja singisalat):
serves 3 as a main course
100 gr green puy lentils
~200 gr fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium red onion, chopped
6-7 cm of leek, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
100 g ham, thinly sliced and cut into ribbons
1 small or 1/2 medium iceberg lettuce
1 tsp of baking soda
Bring a pot of water to the boil, but don't add salt. Saline water makes most legumes, including lentils tough. Once the water is boiling add the baking soda, this will trap the green color of the lentils that would otherwise seep out into the water. Add the lentils, stir well and turn the heat to a simmer.
Peel, cut, chop and dice all the veggies and ham.
Heat a frying pan to a medium temperature. Add the 2 tbs of olive oil, and follow with the onion and the carrots. Cook for 1 minute, and then add the mushrooms and the bell peppers.. Cook gently, stirring occasionally for about 5 or 6 minutes, and then add the thyme and the ham. You want the vegetables to be tender, but not too soft. Remove from the heat.
After 15 minutes, check the lentils. They should hold their shape and be firm to the bite, but soft enough to eat. Once cooked (usually around 20 minutes) drain and immediately place under cold running water to stop them cooking.
Add the drained lentils to the other salad-toppings on the pan and mix. Serve over some crushed iceberg lettuce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.