I’m pretty sure there’s not even a drop of Irish blood in me. You probably won’t see me chugging a Guinness or dancing a jig on St. Paddy’s Day. But this week, as signs of spring pop up everywhere, I’ll be celebrating.
Recently, a friend lost her life to lung disease. She chose to say goodbye just as spring is arriving, bringing with it new life, hope, positivity. I know my friend, having suffered over many years, wanted to make sure her family and friends would enjoy some good meals and get on with their business.
Her timing was perfect. The lettuces in my garden just started poking out of the ground. Verdant, tender asparagus is everywhere. At farmers markets around town, stands are spilling over with all shades of fresh.
This salad is one of my go-to’s whenever I’m craving green. It was my ritual late-night snack after finishing a long day in the kitchen at Georges Blanc. Nourishing and sustaining, it’s a tribute to living in one delicious bowl.
Find few minutes on a slow Sunday to cook up a batch of lentils (a cinch if you have a rice cooker), and you’ll have a few of the week’s meals locked and loaded. Once cooked, legumes will keep in the fridge for several days. The leftover lentils can go into Spaghetti with Lentils and Spinach or Lentil Meatballs for some satisfying meatless dinners.
Feel free to toss in your favorite grains (quinoa, farro, brown rice) and top each serving with a poached or fried egg for extra protein. The vinaigrette – a staple in bistros and households throughout France – is also delicious on grilled vegetables, steamed asparagus, artichokes, roasted potatoes and tuna. I always make a double batch.
As spring pulls up to our doorsteps, embrace all that is green…even if you’re not Irish. This season, it’s my new black.
8 ounces green beans or haricots verts, trimmed
1 cup cooked DePuy or Beluga lentils (I steam them in a rice cooker with a little salt and olive oil)
1-2 heads frisée (or escarole) lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Vegenaise or your favorite mayonnaise
½ cup best quality olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Set a large pot of water to boil over high heat; add a generous handful of salt to the water. You should be able to taste the salt in the water. Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Drop the haricots verts into the water and cook until tender but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the beans with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the bowl of ice water. Once cooled, drain the water and dry the beans on a dish towel. Chop them into bite-sized pieces.
2. Prepare the Bistro Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, vinegars, mustard and mayonnaise. Whisk in the oil in a slow stream to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
3. To serve, toss the frisée and lentils lightly with some of the vinaigrette in a large bowl. Divide the salad between 4 salad plates. Top each with a poached egg if desired. Season with salt and pepper just before serving.
What’s your favorite way to eat spring? Enter a recipe in my Spring Cooking Contest and you could win a beautiful embroidered linen Farmgirl apron (valued at $68) from the Farmgirl Shop!