Puy Lentil, Avocado, Green Bean, Baby Gem and Red Onion Salad

Pomegranate Molasses and Avocado Oil Dressing

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It wasn’t until the Puy lentil hit restaurant menus just over 14 years ago that these ‘hippie grains’ became fashionable. For years they’d been dismissed as being too homely and too worthy. In this case it’s a good thing that ‘fashion’ stepped in. Lentils offer a really earthy flavour and texture, and they are truly delicious when cooked properly.

New Zealand has led the way in avocado oil production in recent years, and it’s well worth sourcing it for a variety of culinary applications – here it works wonders as a dressing alongside the fresh avocado.

Ingredients

  • 1 (250 ml) cup of Puy lentils
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (rice, white wine and cider vinegars are all good)
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 large handfuls of green beans, blanched and refreshed in iced water
  • 3 baby Gem lettuces, leaves separated

For the Pomegranate Molasses and Avocado Oil Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Method

Rinse the lentils and drain. Halve 1 of the onions, thinly slice it and sauté in the olive oil with the garlic until caramelized. Add the herbs and sauté for a further 2 minutes, then add the lentils with 700 ml water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer until just cooked, about 30–40 minutes. Make sure they don’t dry out and, if they need it, add a little extra boiling water from time to time until they’re cooked (rather than adding too much in one go and having to drain them at the end and lose lots of flavour). Once cooked, season and leave to cool completely. You can store, covered, in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Slice the remaining onion thinly into rings and mix with the vinegar, which will make it go a lovely pinky-red colour.

Make the pomegranate molasses and avocado oil dressing by whisking the ingredients together, then lightly season.

Split the avocados in half, remove the stones, peel off the skin and cut the flesh into chunks.

To Serve

Put the lentils into a bowl with the avocado, beans, Baby Gem, half the onion and its vinegar, and the dressing. Toss everything together and then divide between 4 plates. Scatter over the remaining onion. This salad is also lovely served topped with a big dollop of thick plain yoghurt.