This recipe comes from a William Sonoma cookbook. I took the liberty in adding tomatoes. I thought it needed just a little more color and the dual acid content (tomato plus the red wine vinegar) keeps things lively on your palate!
It's always an option to leave out the prosciutto and keep it vegetarian. I liked both versions myself, but the prosciutto makes it a little fancier.
Lentil Salad with Prosciutto, Tomato and Basil
1 1/4 cup french green lentils
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbls minced red onion
4 tbls chopped basil, plus more for garish
1/4 pound thin prosciutto slices cut into strips
1/3 pound fresh mozzarella cheese cut into chunks as desired
1/2 cup chopped tomato, seeds removed.
Let's begin with the lentils. Pick them over to remove any unusual ones. Most recipes say to pick over them to remove any "grit." That is such a nasty word. Grit is what you pick out of your toe-nails or pull from the gutter... not from your lentils! Let's go with "debris."
Rinse them well. Then combine your lentils in a large pot with 4 cups water and a 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and cook for about 20-25 min. The lentils should still hold their shape. Remove them from the heat when they are done and drain well. Set aside to cool.
Start your dressing by combining your olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Give your red onion a chop. Make sure to use red for this. It provides the perfect sweetness.
Slice your prosciutto thin. It's a delicate flavorful meat. Most of the time you can get it already sliced, but I had some whole prosciutto to use. I know... "oh darn."
And your basil... I know I said chop up top. But I like the chiffonade. Roll the leaves like a cigar and chop. They come out like permed hair. Anyone know how many perms I've had between the ages of 11-18? My mom was a hair dresser... read for the answer below.
Add your black pepper, tomato, basil and prosciutto in with the lentils (leaving a little of the last two aside to garnish the top). Pour over the vinegar mixture. Because the lentils are cooked in the salted water, and there's prosciutto in it, you shouldn't need more salt. It's a perfect balance.
Finish with the mozzarella balls on top (I sliced mine in half) and garnish with the left over prosciutto and basil. How beautiful! How tasty! Seriously, if you don't like this salad, I will personally fly to you and eat it FOR you. It's that good.
Sweet: red onion and tomato
Heat: red onion and black pepper
Salt: lentils and prosciutto
Creamy: mozzarella and olive oil
Acidity: vinegar and tomato
Protein: lentils and prosciutto
NOTHING IS IN THERE WITHOUT REASON.
7 perms in 7 years. Now let's see that chiffonade!