Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lentil & Bocconcini Salad for Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day here in Australia and as is normal we are all gathering for lunch and bringing food. I need to bring something that will not need cooking or heating when I get there as others need the oven, and it also needs to be something that is good for the vegetarians who will be there. I am also still feeling in the need of comfort food because of my illness. So I decided on an favourite old stand-by, my Lentil and Bocconcini Salad. This is a dish that I can do very quickly and it is also one that will not need any further work on arrival. It is fresh and tasty and a regular pleaser at any time of the year.

I have a long-standing love of lentils in any shape or form that dates to my living in Greece. I am going to use normal sized lentils today, but you can also use the delicious tiny variety grown in France and also in Australia. I find this a very versatile recipe. This time I am using Vietnamese mint as it is flourishing in the garden. But sometimes I use coriander - I won't use this today as my sister is allergic to it. Or, for a totally different taste, in season I use basil which goes beautifully with the tomato and bocconcini with which it is often married in salata caprese. When I use basil, I leave out the ginger and the chilli. I also vary the pulse I use, with chickpeas being the most common variant.

Lentil & Bocconcini Salad


800 g lentils ( pre-cooked or canned)
200 g cherry bocconcini
1 red pepper
200 g cherry or grape tomatoes
1 zucchini
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp ginger root
1/2 tsp Sambal Oelek (or crushed/chopped fresh chilli)
Vietnamese mint
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Drain the lentils and place in a bowl which can be used for serving. Drain cherry bocconcini and cut in half. (If you are using normal sized bocconcini, quarter them). Add bocconcini to lentils. Deseed and chop red pepper into strips. Julienne the zucchini. Slice the cherry or grape tomoatoes into halves. Add all the vegetables to the lentil and bocconcini mix.

Roughly chop the Vietnamese mint, put the garlic and ginger through a press and add this along with the chilli. Dash some Greek olive oil and balsamic vinegar (di Modena, of course) to taste on the salad. Toss and serve.

This is a delicious lunch served with olive bread or a crusty loaf and butter. Or it can be served as part of a larger array of food as it will be for my family's Mother's Day.

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