Potato lentil salad ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

16 February 2007

Potato lentil salad

This week has been all about the exhaustion, and hence about the lazy food. I keep looking around all the various food sites, going "that looks so good...but I'm SO TIRED." Then I end up having toast and a chik patty with brown mustard, which, while fairly tasty, are not so much new, interesting, or otherwise notable. However! Last night I happened upon an excellent and very easy idea: potato salad.

I love potato salad in nearly all its varieties. Maybe not the ones that include sweet pickles, but that's it. Everything else, including tinfoil-capped supermarket 1-serves, are ok with me. I mean, I Prefer actually making my own, but sometimes you're dying at lunch and that's the best you can find.

Normally, my potato salad consists of variations on a basic theme: waxy potatoes, chopped and boiled, mixed with some chopped onion or green onion and dressed with vinaigrette. What? That isn't potato salad! Well. It may not be the mayo-drenched picnic concoction that most people envision when they think potato salad, but it's still potato salad. You can dress the basic boiled potatoes in anything you want, really: olive oil, decent mustard, sour cream (ha ha! that one I haven't tried, but now it sounds great), or whatever else sounds appealing. It is all good.

In this case, I came across a reference to, and interpretation
, a Vegetarian Times recipe for potato and red lentil salad dressed with yogurt. This is new and intriguing! I make red lentil soup with potato chunks quite a lot, but I've never made potato salad with lentil. It seems like an obvious choice when I think of it in more solid than liquid terms: the main problem with potato salad is that it lacks a protein source. In the past, my solution to this problem has been to hardboil an egg along with the potatoes, chop it up, and add it to the salad. This works well, but what if you don't have eggs? What if you're vegan? In that case you need a different source. Lentils are swift-cooking, cheap, and tasty: an obvious solution.

The yogurt dressing was interesting as well; guess what I garnish my lentil soup with? Yes. The original recipe wanted me to use half yogurt and half mayo, but, well, eh. I have plenty of yogurt and a relatively stern aversion to mayo. So I used all yogurt. But to give it a kick, I mixed the yogurt with a crushed and minced clove of raw garlic and let it sit for a half hour, as I sometimes do for topping curries et al. It does have a pretty big kick, but not one you want to try if you have any feeling toward garlic that is not total undying love. I would probably use minced fresh parsley and some green onion as a substitute. Or you could use red onion or shallot. It's all good.

Potato lentil salad yay!

waxy potatoes
red lentils
plain good yogurt/soy yogurt
garlic, or subs to taste
salt and pepper
lemon juice
a couple spinach leaves or other vegetables if you list

You can scale this really easily. I used about six or seven baby yukon gold potatoes, and three handfuls of lentils. Just keep the proportions close to equal and you should be fine.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add the potatoes, chunked, and lentils. Bring things to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender. Mine took about 30 minutes, due to tiny potato chunk size. If you have lentil texture issues, you may want to add them a little later than the potatoes. I personally want my lentils mushy, for maximum comfort food value, so I just stuck everything in at once. When tender, drain through a fine wire-mesh sieve, not a colander, or you'll lose half the lentils down the sink.

While these are cooking, flavor your yogurt with garlic, onion, or herbs, if you are inclined to do so. It needs to sit a little while for the flavors to mix. I used a little more than half a 6 oz cup of yogurt, and one clove of garlic. Stick it in the refrigerator while things are cooking.

Let the potato-lentil mixture cool for a few minutes, then mix, still warm, with the yogurt. Add some salt, pepper, and any chopped vegetables that sound good to you. In my case, I used the tiny crisp heart leaves of a bunch of spinach, plus a little more garlic for good measure. Spinach: yet another vegetable that turns up in the red lentil soup. If we'd had a better choice of vegetables, I would have added some sliced radish and fresh (or thawed frozen) corn kernels. Squeeze a hit of good fresh lemon juice over the salad, top with any leftover yogurt, and eat.

If you like the spice, you may want to add a little shake of cayenne; if you like more savor, you could add some mustard powder, or actual decent mustard. In my case, the whole theme was garlic. I even used the baby scapes growing from the sprouted head of garlic hanging out on my rice cooker. Seriously, do not use raw garlic unless you aren't planning to talk to anyone until the next day. It was delicious, but severe.

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