There are things on whose behalf I'll labor heroically in the kitchen. From-scratch Krembos? Sure. Rolling and filling dumpling dough? Bring it on. Feeding a sourdough starter? Challenge accepted. Salad is not generally one of those things. Along with their compatriots, sandwiches, cold vegetable salads don't usually garner much attention from me. I make salads daily, but simple ones. Which is too bad, as I'm reminded when I do make the effort, because a complex salad or well-composed sandwich really elevate the everyday versions of themselves to something worthy of the trouble.
This cold lentil salad is something I usually trot out for the Yom Kippur break-fast meal, and every year it sends me, newly invigorated, on a fussy-salad-making spree. So, yes, it's got a few steps to it: you have to do a bunch of chopping, possibly even drag out the food processor, turn on the oven and roast stuff, and then you've also got to cook lentils (though you can do it in the Instant Pot; I've included directions for that in the recipe). But it'll be worth it. Plus this salad keeps in the fridge for a few days, so you've got the next few lunches buttoned up.
A few details worth a trip to the grocery store
Since we're being fussy here, I'm going to have to tell you that you must add arugula (rocket) and chives to your shopping list. Do not be tempted to leave out the chives, and accept no substitutions. Also, if fresh parsley and red cabbage and green lentils and sweet potatoes don't regularly hang around your kitchen, add those to your shopping list too. You want green lentils so that they hold their shape in the salad.
About the harissa. I've always made this with dry harissa spice, but the paste should work the same way. You're welcome (encouraged, even) to put a bunch more harissa, of any and all kinds, in the dressing, if your people will go for that kind of thing.
Lentil and Sweet Potato Arugula Salad with Lemon-Harissa Dressing (parve)
- 1 cup green lentils, raw - 200g
- 2 medium sweet potatoes - peeled and chopped into cubes
- 1 shallot - peeled, halved, and sliced
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 4 cups arugula (rocket) - 115g or 5oz, usually one package/bag
- ¼ red cabbage - thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup parsley - chopped
- 3 Tbsp chives - chopped
Prep the cooked veg:
- Place the lentils in a medium-sized pot and cover with 2" / 5cm water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the flame and simmer until the lentils are soft, 30-40 minutes. Alternatively, cook the lentils in an Instant Pot: Place the lentils and 1 ½ cups water in the Instant Pot insert. Seal and cook 12 minutes on manual high pressure in the Instant Pot, natural release.
- Next, preheat the oven to 385°F / 195°C. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes and shallots. Spread them out on a lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven to roast 25-30 min.
Prep the fresh veg:
- By hand or in a food processor, slice/chop the cabbage and herbs. Toss with argula in a large bowl.
Prep the dressing:
- Place all ingredients in a small jar, put lid on tightly, and shake well to emulsify.
Assemble the salad:
- When the cooked veg is cooled, toss with the fresh ingredients. Pour dressing over and toss.