At a recent summer soiree, my friend Laura brought an exotic-tasting salad to the party buffet. It had nubby brown rice, lentils and a blend of mellow, earthy flavors that sent me pestering her for the recipe. The special secret ingredient that knit everything together was a pair of slowly caramelized onions.
I made up another batch of this great side dish for my family last week and it was perfect for the sweltering temperatures we've been having. With a simple dressing of balsamic vinegar, spices and herbs, there's no risk of spoilage in the heat, making it a terrific addition for hot weather dining.
I didn't have green lentils on hand, just the cute little orange ones that turn to mush when you cook them, so I rooted around my cupboards and came up with a forgotten bag of horse gram, a legume closely related to the lentil, which is a staple in some southern Indian cooking traditions. A lentil will take much less cooking time than the horse gram, which I cooked before adding to my salad, in a pot of boiling salted water for 30 minutes.
Here's Laura's recipe for:
Brown Rice and Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onions
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. butter
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup brown lentils, cooked
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepepr to taste
Melt butter in a frying pan. Add onions, and cook slowly, over low heat, until they are soft, golden and caramelized, about 20-25 minutes.
Mix all ingredients together in a serving bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 6-8. Double this batch to bring to a party. Serve warm or at room temperature to let flavors mellow.
I am sending over a virtual plate of this awesome summer salad to No Croutons Required, a monthly vegetarian recipe challenge alternately hosted by Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa's Kitchen. The challenge this month is for a soup or salad that is suited for hot summer weather, so Laura's recipe is a stellar fit!