How does it all fit together? Well, the dish comes from the latest collection of James Beard’s influential recipes. This new book is full of classics like Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, Cioppino, and this hearty Lentil Salad.
You may have read all about California Olive Ranch in my last post, so you’ve already seen how gorgeous their olive orchards are. Now, we’re going to see that EVOO in action.
I connected with Marie to put a modern spin on Mr. Beard’s Lentil Salad. Back in the day, Marie worked in the test kitchen of Woman’s Day magazine. One of her responsibilities was to prepare special lunches for the food editor and her guests. James Beard (Jim to his friends) was often among the guests. Here’s what she had to say about “Jim” and the new cookbook:
I loved reading the recipes in the latest compilation of his work, The Essential James Beard Cookbook. They are so true to his nature: relaxed, confident and unpretentious. Just plain good food.
Some may remember or know from photographs that Jim was a very large man. Jim didn’t count calories, that’s for sure. Tall and wide compared to my short and slender stature we must have looked silly standing side by side discussing cooking and recipes. But he was so gregarious and unassuming I always felt comfortable in his company. I just wish I had a photo of us together. I think the tip top of my head barely reached his armpit.
— Marie Simmons, food writer
Marie chose this Lentil Salad for us to make because as she puts is, “It is so typical of Mr. Beard’s food: hearty, rich and flavorful.” Also, since legumes are all the healthy rage these days, it is a recipe for all times.
We modernized the recipe a touch, adding more green and adjusting the treatment of the lentils. Mr. Beard’s recipe says to soak them overnight, but dried lentils today are relatively “fresh” and cook quickly as a result.
I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical when I saw this recipe. I mean, how exciting could lentils be? But, as I should have guessed, Jim and Marie made me a convert. I adored this dish and will be making it again often.
Tossing an onion, garlic, cloves, and bay leaf in to the lentils’ cooking water is a brilliant way to add subtle flavor to the beans. The bacon adds a salty, savory, meaty crunch. Fistfuls of parsley and scallions like this light and fresh. Edamame (or petite green peas) make you feel downright virtuous eating this (yes, it cancels out the bacon guilt). And the lentils just soak up all that good extra virgin olive oil, making them rich and buttery.
Versatile, healthy, and delicious, this hearty lentil salad is a keeper. I had it last night tossed with some arugula and pears. It was so satisfying I forgot I was eating a salad for dinner. And, I already can’t wait to make it again to go with my favorite Creamy Mustard Salmon. Now that’s a perfect weeknight meal right there.
So, big thanks to Mr. James Beard and Marie! I’ll never doubt you again.
Versatile, healthy, and delicious, this hearty lentil salad is a wonderful recipe to add to your repertoire. Mr. Beard suggests serving as a buffet side dish with ham. It would also be wonderful over greens as a main course, or with salmon, grilled leg of lamb, or deviled eggs. (Adapted from The Essential James Beard Cookbook).
Recipe Source: LickMySpoon.com.
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