Excerpted from Back to the Cutting Board by Christina Pirello
In this delicious turn on a classic autumn salad, the earthy flavor of baby lentils is the perfect complement to the crisp apples and sweet pecans. But it isn’t just another delicious salad—the lentils give us great endurance, the apples relax us, but with just enough tart flavor to give us some sparkle, and the pecans, like other nuts, grow into trees and so have lots of energy stored within. You’ll be dancing in the streets.
Makes 3 to 4 servings.
1 bay leaf
⅔ cup du Puy, Umbrian, or Beluga lentils, sorted and rinsed
1¼ cups spring or filtered water
2 to 3 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, halved, cored, and diced, tossed in 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup diced red onion, lightly blanched
2 stalks celery, diced
Grated zest of 1 lemon
½ cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted (see Cook’s Tip)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
⅔ cup vegan mayonnaise substitute
Place the bay leaf in a pot and top with the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Add a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the lentils are tender but not too soft, about 35 minutes. Season lightly again with salt and simmer for 1 minute more. Drain and transfer to a small bowl to cool until just warm. Prepare the salad by combining the cooked lentils with the apples, red onion, celery, lemon zest, walnuts, and nutmeg. Gently stir in the vegan mayo until the ingredients are well coated. Serve warm.
COOK’S TIP: To toast walnut pieces, heat a dry stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl immediately to avoid burning.