I've been pretty inspired by the work of Yotam Ottolenghi lately, as I know many of us are. I've always been intrigued by his beautiful books and recipes, but recently fell in love with his story after hearing him (and Sam Tamimi) on Heritage Radio Network's TASTE MATTERS. If you know anything about this man, you know his recipes and flavor combinations are LEGIT, both in aesthetic and taste. He merges his Israeli heritage with the influence of the Western world and a serious understanding of vegetables. Classic is not a word I would use to describe him, but I mean that in the best way. He still manages to reflect a sense of cultural appreciation while making some pretty refreshing dishes.
Of all Ottolenghi's talent, I appreciate his boldness most. Both his recipes and food philosophy don't easily fit into one box. Although it is often vegetarian, he doesn't abide by that rule exclusively. You may have noticed I myself have stopped labeling my eating habits as vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, etc. What feels most important to me is experiencing food in the way that is most satisfying to me and leaving labels aside. Usually, what feels right to you will resonate with others as well.
CUMIN SPICED FRENCH LENTIL SALAD WITH ROASTED CARROTS (Gluten-free) Serves 4
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb. organic carrots, whole and de-stemmed
- 1 1/2 cups french lentils, rinsed
- 1 small red onion, sliced thin
- 2-3 tablespoons mint, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons parsley, minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons greek yogurt, to serve
- Fresh pepper to taste
- Flaky sea salt, to serve
LEMON CAPER DRESSING:
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoons capers, drained
- 1 lemon, juice & zest
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Olive oil, to drizzle
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, combine olive oil, cumin seed, mustard, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 2 garlic cloves. Add carrots to a foil-lined baking sheet, then drizzle dressing overtop, making sure carrots are well coated.
*NOTE:I used a bunch organic carrots which are on the smaller size. If yours are large, I would quarter them lengthwise, or you could just chop them in large chunks and roast that way. Roasting time will vary.
Add to oven and roast for 30-35 minutes or until super browned and tender. Set aside.
While carrots are cooking, add 1.5 cups of lentils to a large saucepan with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and about 4 cups of water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to simmer (uncovered) and cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender, but not mushy. Once finished cooking, strain lentils in a sieve to remove any excess water. Set aside to cool.
In a small mason jar or bowl, muddle 2 tsp. capers, 1 minced garlic clove until broken down well. Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon, a good pinch of salt (about 1/2 teaspoon), and a drizzle of olive oil. Whisk together well.
Add lentils to a large serving bowl and fold in the caper dressing. Toss to coat well. Add shaved onion, fresh mint, and parsley. Top lentil salad with roasted carrots and a dollop of greek yogurt. Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper to top. Serve this salad warm, cold over greens or with toasted bread.