Entrée, Snack, Summer

SUMMER TOMATO LENTILS

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I work in the hospitality industry. There are no holidays, and ‘weekends’ typically come in the form of a Tuesday and Thursday. This does make for productive days off, but there is something about the traditional weekend day that makes me feel like I don’t need to set an alarm. I love taquito-ing myself in my soft white comforter, listening to people futz around in the back alley and having tea in a mug that doesn’t have to fit in my car cup holder. I love you, Saturday.

Laguna Beach has their farmers market on Saturday, so that was my first stop this past (real) weekend. You know, once I got out of my fluffy taquito. I can travel to others during the week if need be, but I find it much more charming to walk to my market, canvas bag in hand- it fits the Saturday picture I paint in my head. I joined the people hovering around the testers enjoying the sweet smell of stone fruits on little toothpicks. Hugh lingered in the background twittering about how 'the hippies were looking at him funny.’ Typical.

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There is so much produce in season right now; I grabbed a few favorites to fill my mini fridge, along with some incredibly fragrant baby tomatoes that I thought would be great in a big bowl of lentils. As they delicately roast in the oven, the sweet flavor becomes more pronounced.

SUMMER TOMATO LENTILS // Serves 2 as entrée, 4 as a side

1 Cup Lentils

1 Lemon, zest and juice

1/3 Cup Goat Cheese

2 Large Shallots, peeled and sliced thin

3 Cups Baby Tomatoes

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1/3 Cup Chives, Finely Chopped

1/3 Cup Basil, Chopped

1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard

1 tsp. Garlic Salt

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Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

Oven to 325'

Note: I cook my lentils in unsalted water, as salt is said to toughen the beans- they will taste most fresh if the seasoning is added at the end.

1. Cut tomatoes in half. On the baking pan, toss with 1/2 tbsp. of the olive oil and garlic salt. Turn the tomatoes so they are cut side up, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.

2. Rinse and drain the lentils, pick out any scrappy pieces. In a medium pot bring 1½ cups water to a boil, add the lentils, turn down the heat to medium and simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Test the beans for doneness; the liquid should be absorbed, add more if they are not soft to your taste. Put them in a large bowl and crumble in the goat cheese so it melts in the warmth. Add the lemon zest and juice, and gently fold to coat.

3. While lentils are cooling, make the crispy shallots. In a small saucepan, heat up 1/2 tbsp. olive oil on medium. Add the sliced shallots and cook about 15 minutes, until they are golden brown on both sides.

4. Gently fold the dijon mustard, remaining olive oil and fresh black pepper into the goat cheesey lentils. Add the basil and chives, roasted tomatoes and crispy shallots. Add salt to your preference.

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~ Serve in a pita or butter lettuce wraps!