French Lentil and Tomato Salad

This Wednesday marked four years since I decided to become a vegetarian. My decision to give up meat and fish illustrates the way I do many things in life: I research my decision and read all the information I can get my hands on and then I just do it. Usually when I dedicate a lot of time to thinking about something I know I have already made the decision in my heart and I am just waiting for my head to catch up. This wasn’t something expected of me: I was the biggest carnivore as a kid and even as an adolescent I could out-steak my Dad. Funny, now I don’t even crave meat. Not once in the past four years have I cracked and had even one little bite of someone’s burger, taco, or chicken wing. On the morning of the 13th of August 2010 it was though a switch had flipped in my head: I was a vegetarian and it was the most natural progression in the world.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Now, I am not going to preach at you here and insist vegetarianism is the way for everyone. I know it’s not. There are many paths to the same wellness I derive from my plant-based diet. I still cook meat every night for Chris and nothing pleases me more than pulling out a perfectly crispy skinned roast chicken and presenting it to a table of hungry guests. I have written about why I love meat before and this still holds true. But my tastebuds don’t well up at the thought of a perfectly medium rare steak or a bowl of fresh summer prawns: I am drawn to the protein of the earth. My mouth waters when I discover a new type of legume, or some clever dish concocted from quinoa, or a gooey-centred poached egg. That’s just the way I work.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I am not a vegan either though (see aforementioned gooey egg), and I did give it a good shot for about six months a few years ago. For me a lot of veganism involves eating ‘fake foods’. I don’t want veggie sausages or “not chicken” made out of soy protein isolates and a whole host of other unknown substances requiring a chemistry degree to pronounce. I want real food, earth food, whole food. I know exactly what I am getting when I open up a tin of chickpeas or a bag of dried lentils. When I fry an egg I can see the whole process from raw ingredient to perfect meal. I crave food whose journey is short from paddock, to chopping board, to plate. I guess that’s why I became a home cook in the first place. I watched my Mum and Dad make meals from ingredients that were straight from the grocer, no packets or mysterious tins required. And now, as an adult, as a vegetarian cooking meals for her beloved omnivore, that is still what I crave: real food, earth food, thoroughly nourishing food. Happy Veggie-versary to me.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

French Lentil and Tomato Salad

Vegan | Gluten Free | Serves 3-4

Adapted from Pinch of Yum‘s Sautéed Garlic and Tomato Lentil Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups dried Puy lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large clove garlic (or 2 small cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion
  • 4 large handfuls baby spinach

For the dressing

  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Place lentils, water, salt, dried thyme, and dried rosemary into a medium-size saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until cooked but still firm. Drain well, place in a large bowl, and allow to cool until required.
  2. Chop tomatoes into a large dice and mince garlic. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté garlic and tomatoes until garlic is tender and the tomatoes have started to soften. Add lentils and tomatoes to lentils.
  3. Peel and dice red onion and add to lentil and tomatoes along with spinach.
  4. To make dressing: whisk together all ingredients. Pour over salad and mix everything gently with two large salad servers or with clean hands.
  5. Serve room temperature or chilled. Lasts well in the fridge for up to two days.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

8 thoughts on “French Lentil and Tomato Salad

  1. Beautiful pictures of a lovely, fresh salad Amy! And congratulations on 4 years of vegetarianism.

    I totally agree, the whole point of being healthy (and helping the planet/animal welfare) is to avoid fake food because surely the manufacture of those foods isn’t helpful … I also appreciate your respect for other people’s lifestyles and your healthy, delicious looking recipes on your blog.

    Stay rugged up in all this rain we’re having and have a good weekend!

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