- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sweet and savory combine harmoniously in this colorful, fruity marinated salad, Mediterranean lentil salad.

The blood oranges lend an exquisite tartness in addition to their vibrant color, so seek them out in your favorite enlightened produce department. You will need two oranges: one to section and the other for the juice.

If you can’t find blood oranges, the next-best variety for this salad is Valencia.

Streamline the preparation time by getting everything else ready while the lentils are cooking.

The whole salad can be made up to two days ahead of time but postpone adding the bell pepper and fresh herbs until shortly before serving. This makes a lovely lunch entree in the warm weather.

Mediterranean lentil salad

1 cup dry lentils (see note)

Water

2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 blood orange, peeled and sectioned

½ teaspoon minced or crushed garlic

3 to 4 tablespoons blood orange juice

1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar or cider vinegar

2 tablespoons very finely minced red onion

1/4 teaspoon each grated orange and lime zest (optional, see note)

1 tablespoon dried currants

½ small carrot, shredded or finely minced

1/4 cup minced bell pepper (a combination of red and yellow, if possible)

A handful of each or any: finely minced fresh parsley, chives and mint

Place the lentils in a pot and fill with enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Partially cover, until the lentils are tender. Check the water level and add more if necessary.

Cooking time should be about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the lentils when they are done, and gently rinse in cold water. Drain again and place in a medium-large bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients except the bell pepper and fresh herbs. Cover tightly and chill at least 4 hours.

Add the bell pepper and herbs within an hour of serving. Serve cold or at room temperature. Yield: 4 servings

Note: French lentils are a small, round variety that stay intact and slightly chewy after being cooked and are thus a good choice for a salad. They need at least 4 hours to marinate, so plan ahead.

If you are using the optional citrus zest, grate the fruit before sectioning or juicing it.

Mollie Katzen is author of “Moosewood Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press). To contact her, go to www.molliekatzen.com.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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