Friday, August 12, 2011

Warm Lentil and Swiss Chard Salad - An MLLA Guest Post by Janet of The Taste Space

Vitality and variety are the first adjectives that come to mind when describing the recipe archive of Janet of the Toronto-based blog, The Taste Space. Janet (also known as Saveur) has amassed hundreds of dishes, many of them influenced by her travels to Japan, Turkey, and Morocco, as well as her commitment to going meatless.

Earlier this year, she took the plunge and embraced veganism with the same gusto as her impressive stamina and dedication to distance cycling. Given the dietary restrictions on animal products and the metabolic boon of frequent cardio-vascular exercise, Janet has researched and incorporated legumes as a staple in many of her meals for protein, energy carbohydrates, and dozens of standard and trace vitamins and minerals for optimal health. Many of Janet's recipes focus on the trio of salads, soups, and sides, for which legumes have a natural affinity as a keystone ingredient. As Janet can attest, where there is the will, there is the legume. Never argue with a woman wielding such a large and sharp zirh.

I am very happy to feature Janet's great debate on her favorite legume as she shares another of her innovative, taste bud-bursting salads as August's guest blogging for My Legume Love Affair. Thank you, Janet!

This post will be included in the MLLA 38 round-up, hosted this month by Preeti of Write Food - Relishing Recipes

The following writing, recipe, and photography are owned by Janet of The Taste Space and protected by copyright. All Rights Reserved. 2011. All materials appear here by permission and courtesy. 

I have a silent battle on my blog.

Chickpeas versus lentils.

Every so often, I will check to see which legume has more recipes. In early August, my count was 21 chickpea and 17 lentil, and I vowed to up the lentil quota on my blog. You’d think lentils would be more versatile since red lentils turn ultra-creamy, brown and green lentils are best for soups and the black beluga and French du Puy lentil are perfect for salads. Alas, my adoration towards the lentil cannot be proven by the sheer number of lentil recipes on my blog. Until now, as we should be nearing a tie…

Don’t get me wrong, I love beans and legumes. In fact, I already christened this the year of the bean, having tried many new beans and have an even bigger stash of heirloom beans still waiting to be cooked up for my next dinner.

I used to think beans were all generally interchangeable and I am slowly realizing this isn’t the case. It took me a while to figure it out, but I don’t like vinaigrettes with chickpeas. I, do, however, enjoy chickpea salads if they have been pan-roasted. Chickpeas are also a great vector for heavy sauces and added into stews.

Whereas vinaigrettes don’t work with chickpeas, I like them with lentils. French du Puy lentils play them up nicely and I’ve made some great salads this summer, including a sweet and savoury Latin-Spiced Mango Lentil Salad and a wonderful Lentil Salad with Currants and Capers flavoured with eleven spices.

Here, I tackle another simple lentil salad. Instead of French du Puy lentils, I used black beluga lentils which cook up just as fast and keep their shape well for salads.  I caramelized a leek and cooked up some Swiss chard to add to the salad, along with currants for sweetness. The dressing was simple, with lightness from the lemon juice, vinegars and fresh cilantro. I wasn’t overtly thrilled with the salad originally, tinkering with the original recipe from Love Soup quite a bit, but I just had to be patient. The flavours melded nicely overnight.

Here are some of my favourite ways to enjoy chickpeas:
Here are some of my favourite ways to eat lentils:
Warm Lentil and Swiss Chard Salad
300g dried black beluga lentils (or your favourite non-red lentil)
2 cups leek, white and light green parts chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil, or olive oil, divided
1/3 cup currants
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
150-300g Swiss chard, thinly sliced
freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil with 1 tsp of salt, then add lentils. Lower the heat and simmer the lentils, covered, for 20-25 minutes, until tender. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, saute the chopped leeks in 1 tbsp oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet until they are soft and starting to caramelize, around 20-30 minutes.

3. Combine the cooled lentils with the sauteed leeks and currants. Toss with the vinegars, salt and cilantro.

4. In the same pan as the leeks were sauteed, add the remaining 1 tbsp oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and stir for a minute. Add in the chopped Swiss chard and toss over high heat until it turns a brilliant green. Squirt some lemon juice overtop and add to the lentil mixture.

5. Add the remaining lemon juice, season to taste and allow to marinate at least 30 minutes. Taste again and adjust seasonings.

Serves 6.


  1. heyy there - i know its been a long time since I came here. That lentil and swiss chard recipe looks soo out of the world that when it popped up on my screen I couldnt resist but come and tell you that. Hope you are doing good :)

  2. I like this lovely combination although I haven't had this before looks fabulous

  3. Very nice! I never prepare lentils as a salad: I should change that. I also like black beluga lentils.

  4. I have never eaten lentils before; but, I've planned to for awhile now. I have some just waiting for me to use. This looks fantastic. Maybe this will be the week to give them a try. Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. I always find so many fabulous ideas on Janet's blog. I hadn't thought about the "suitable for vinaigrette" question regarding chickpeas vs lentils, but makes a lot of sense. The only chickpea salad I eat regularly has a creamy tahini sauce, not vinaigrette! And this lentil salad looks spectacular.