The Park Slope food co-op has a decent selection of cookbooks on sale at about 35% off the list price. That’s not much cheaper than Amazon, but it has the benefit of being right there for me to browse through. So when I was standing in line last week, leafing through Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, I decided to treat myself. I only buy cookbooks for inspiration these days, because if I’m looking for something specific to cook, I always google it. This one is plenty inspiring (pardon the pun), and I have a feeling it’s going to get used a lot.

We had a big heat wave for the Memorial Day weekend, so I didn’t feel much like cooking, or eating hot food, so I made this lentil salad. The original recipe calls for chunks of cheese on top (no rice), which would certainly be delicious, but we wanted to keep it vegan. You could also add toasted walnuts or almonds. How is that for a well balanced meal?! Here’s the way I made it:

Green Lentils and Watercress Salad

1 cup brown rice

1 cup green lentils

4 cups watercress      

2/3 cup parsley

2/3 cup light olive oil

1 tblsp. red wine vinegar

1 garlic clove

salt and black pepper

1 bunch green asparagus

walnut oil (optional)

lemon juice

Put the brown rice in a small saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 45 minutes, or until it’s tender and the water has been absorbed.

Wash the lentils in cold water and put in a medium saucepan with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender but not mushy.

In the meantime, put half the watercress, parsley, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and some salt and pepper in a food processor. Blend until smooth.

Drain the lentils as soon as they’re cooked and mix them with the dressing. Add the rice. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Boil some water and throw in the asparagus for a couple of minutes, so that it turns even brighter green. You can cut it into bite sized pieces before or after you cook it.

Fold the remaining watercress and asparagus into the lentils. 

Serve warm or at room temperature. Drizzle with a little walnut oil and lemon juice before serving.