The weather of late is calling more for salads than soup. We know of course that’s going to change. This salad is like a bridge — or maybe a hybrid (hybridge?). It marries tastes of the season — smoked salmon anyone? — hardy fare — lentils, after all — with light treatment in a wonderful Asian-inspired dressing. It seems an unlikely combination but don’t be fooled. You’ll enjoy it for lunch or as a dinner with soup (when the inevitable chill comes back) and crusty bread. The original recipe is from Fine Cooking.
2 C cooked lentils (Melissa’s or Trader Joe’s)
1 medium clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press
½ medium shallot, finely chopped (about 1½ Tbs.)
3 Tbs. rice vinegar
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger (use small holes on a box grater)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. fennel seed, busted up in a mortar and pestle
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup oil (canola or olive)
9 small radishes, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
½ small bulb fennel, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 1 cup), plus 1 Tbs. chopped fennel fronds
4 oz. cold-smoked salmon, cut into ½-inch squares (about ½-cup)
Whisk garlic, shallot, vinegar, ginger, mustard, fennel seed, 1½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Whisk in the oil.
In a large bowl, toss the lentils, radishes, fennel, fennel fronds, and chives with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat everything lightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (You can prepare the salad to this point up to 4 hours ahead.) Just before serving, gently stir in the salmon and a few grinds of pepper. Garnish with parsley.