Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Warm Dijon and Balsamic Lentil Salad with Soft Eggs

It is the first day of fall.  Rejoice! Even though fall is probably my favoritest season, I'm usually a bit more put out by the end of summer, but I had an admittedly odd one and am very much looking forward to this fall and seasonal changes and getting back to running around outside to enjoy the crisp air!  Also, Thanksgiving.  But I'm getting ahead of myself with that.  September is a great time of year because there is still so much wonderful, fresh, delicious summery produce, but there is a little chill to the air that makes me want to eat warming foods again.  

I have a great recipe for a lentil farro salad I have yet to post, but that's a really summery meal, what with cukes and cherry tomatoes and basil and like...served chilled and all.  It's not what I want on a night when you can feel the changing seasons and suddenly find yourself thinking about warm cider donuts, crisp apples, knee high brown boots, and drapey sweaters instead of cranking up the AC for the first time in months. I had all the ingredients for my cold lentil farro dish, but just wasn't in the mood, and decided to switch it up and go for a warm one, with a little balsamic and a nice soft egg.  It uses a lot of fresh tomatoes, zucchini, some dijon, and a lot of patience not to sample it all before you serve it.  I think it's a good way to ease yourself from one season to the next!

Warm Dijon and Balsamic Lentil Salad with Soft Eggs
Serves 4-6
Warm Dijon and Balsamic Lentil Salad
½ cup farro
2 cups water
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup olive oil
½ red onion diced
500 g cooked lentils (just over 1 lb)
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
1-2 cloves garlic minced or pressed (or 1 tsp dehydrated)
1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
½ - 1 Tsp dried basil
4-6 poached or soft boiled eggs
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (with more to drizzle)
Baby spinach (optional for serving)
Freshly ground salt and pepper


1) In a saucepan bring the farro to boil in a bit over 2 cups of water.  Let cooked uncovered until just cooked and a bit chewy, roughly 20-25 minutes.  When the water gets low, add about a Tbsp of the white wine.
2) In a large, deep saute pan, heat oil and garlic over medium until it turns just golden, and then add ½ the chopped red onion and all the cherry tomatoes.  Saute over medium-low until tomatoes fully break down and a sauce appears, stirring occasionally.  This should take roughly 8-10 minutes. Don't rush - you want it a bit caramelized.
3) Add white wine and cook roughly 3 minutes until it has cooked down a bit and to deglaze the pan a bit.
4) Add remaining onion and pepper, saute until well incorporated, roughly 5 minutes.  
5) Add zucchini and stir to combine, then add lentils and farro, including and reserved liquid (do not rinse or drain).
6) Add dijon and dried basil, and stir to in combine.
7) Add 1 Tbsp balsamic, and taste to test seasoning; add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste.  
8) Serve warm on a bed of baby spinach with soft eggs drizzled with a bit more balsamic and a dusting of more freshly ground pepper.  

- This recipe is a fairly quick one to make, particularly if you do the prep ahead of time and use pre-cooked lentils.
- I used a Trader Joe’s package of steamed lentils to make this.  You can prepare your own ahead of time, or used canned (rinsed and drained).  My other tip is that they are super packed in the TJ’s pack; I had to spend a lot of time breaking them up in the pan!
- You don’t need to add the farro to this.  I think another grain would work well, or just a cup more lentils, with a serving of crusty bread on the side.
- You can use whole tomatoes instead of cherry, but I do recommend using a sweeter or heirloom variety for this.
- I served mine on a bed of baby spinach because I had some and really needed to use it up. It wasn't a bad decision, but you don't need to do that if you don't want to.

- Naturally, this is a great side dish for your red wine dinner.
- There are a few ways to make soft eggs; 5-6 minutes boiled, poaching them on the reg, or my favorite trick: Julia Child's simple trick for perfectly poached eggs. 100% of the time it works 100% of the time.

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