One For The Money

One night last week, I was in a mad dash. I raced home from work, laced up my sneakers and went for a run that proved to be extremely challenging. I don’t know why but my mind kept telling me it was time to stop and walk. Perplexing as I made great strides, no pun intended, the two days prior. Not to mention my music mix was off the charts. After fifty minutes of fighting with myself, I arrived home to find Matthew taking care of business with his lawnmower in the front yard. I decided to join him with free weights in hand. He stopped to chortle asking what the neighbors would think about my gladiator routine but I wasn’t concerned. On the cusp of overheating I was itching to finish my reps and be done with my exercise for the day. 

After literally collapsing defeated in the grass (insert melodrama here), I jumped in the shower, got myself gussied up, hopped back in the car and dropped in on a work function. Within the hour, I was home again and as the time for dinner was in sight, quite peckish. Given the late hour, I was not about to put pork on the grill or chicken in the oven. Instead, I took a quick peek in the fridge and made do with what was on hand. The end result was the below salad. With all the layers, it was very satisfying. Robust in flavor, fresh, delicious and any excuse to clear out the refrigerator, I take. For a no meat, no time, pull it together with whatever you have kind of night, this rough and ready salad fit the bill and then some.

Rough and Ready Salad with Roasted Broccoli and French Lentils

1 head of artisan romaine – chopped
1 head of broccoli – chopped
½ red onion – finely sliced
1 cup of dry French lentils – cooked
1 leek – chopped
2 cloves of garlic – chopped
1 TBS tomato paste
1 bay leaf
¼ cup of walnuts – toasted
2 TBS capers  drained
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp grain mustard
1 tsp honey
A pinch of red pepper flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Pecorino – you can also use Parmesan, goat cheese, feta, whatever really

1. Place broccoli, red onion and one chopped clove of garlic on a pan and drizzle with 1 TBS olive oil. Roast at 425 until done, approximately 25 minutes. Be sure to shake the pan once or twice in this time period. Remove from heat.

2. To prepare your lentils, add 1 TBS olive oil to a small pot on medium high heat. Add 1 chopped garlic clove, the chopped leek and let cook for approximately 4 minutes. Add 1 cup of French lentils to the mix and stir until coated. Now add the 1 TBS tomato paste and bay leaf. Add 2 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and lower to simmer. You will need approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Once finished, remove from heat.

3. In a pan, add ½ TBS olive oil on high heat. Add your chopped romaine stirring continuously until it has a slightly brown exterior. You don’t want to cook it too much, just around five minutes or so. Please remove from heat.

4. In another pan, toast your walnuts. You can do this by putting them in a pan on the stove or on a sheet and in the oven. Either way, watch them like a hawk. Both means need around five to ten minutes. Remove from heat.

5. To make your vinaigrette, mix the juice of one lemon with the mustard, honey and 1 to 2 TBS olive oil. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes.

6. Now it is time to layer your salad. I started with the grilled romaine at the bottom, followed by lentils on top, broccoli and walnuts. Scatter the capers. Drizzle your dressing over the gorgeously bright medley. A pinch of salt here, crack of pepper there, a quick shaving of Pecorino and you are in business.

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