I was smitten with this recipe from the moment I laid eyes on it, and I think you’ll be, too.
The results are so tasty, in fact, that I hope you’ll forgive a myriad of little cheats—some agave nectar, a couple of pinches of salt, a little cooking spray—in the service of the greater good: a sweet-savory warm lentil salad bursting with fresh herbs and topped with crispy candied walnuts.
The brainchild of Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, the original “Lentils and Radicchio with Honey-Glazed Walnuts” recipe was featured in the April 2013 issue of In Style magazine. It looked fantastic, with the exception of one dirty little secret: as written in In Style, this otherwise healthy-looking salad features a full one-half cup of oil in four servings. Doing the math, that means that the oil alone in a single serving of salad is the calorie equivalent of two ¼-cup scoops of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy ice cream.
With all due respect to oily lentils, I think I’d rather splurge on the Chocolate Therapy.
So instead of foregoing the recipe, which looked way too enticing to pass up, I decided to give it a makeover. (Who doesn’t love a makeover?) I nixed nearly all the oil (along with the cheese) and dialed back the sweetener, which actually allowed the gorgeous flavors of abundant herbs—over ½ cup each of fresh basil, dill, and parsley, along with the surprisingly mellow flavor of seared radicchio—to really shine through. I’m pretty sure your arteries will thank me, and I know your taste buds will be delighted.
In fact, Jeff and I made this salad as a Saturday-night date, and it was all I could do to eke out a few pictures before we jumped in and devoured it. It really is that good!
- 1¼ c green lentils
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ c agave nectar, divided
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ c walnuts, broken into large pieces
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ medium radicchio
- cooking spray
- ⅔ c roughly chopped basil
- ⅔ c roughly chopped dill
- ⅔ c roughly chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Add the lentils and bay leaves to a medium saucepan with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 15 minutes, or until lentils are just tender.
- While lentils are cooking, place 2 Tbsp agave nectar, turmeric, a pinch of salt, and ½ tsp water in bowl. Mix thoroughly with a fork. Add walnut pieces, toss to coat, and spread on a rimmed baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake for 15–20 minutes, stirring once, until walnuts are crunchy and golden brown. (No worries if they’re still a little sticky.)
- Drain lentils, discard bay leaves, and return lentils to the saucepan. In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, remaining 2 Tbsp of agave nectar, and a pinch of salt until combined. Add to the lentils and stir gently to coat.
- Slice radicchio into 8 wedges, leave the core at the bottom intact to hold each wedge together. Coat a skillet with cooking spray and place over high heat until a drop of water dances when dripped onto the pan’s surface. Sear radicchio for one minute on each side, then place in a large bowl.
- Add lentils and herbs to radicchio and toss gently. Serve topped with crunchy glazed walnuts.
Crazy for fresh herbs? Check out 20-Minute Herbed Green Beans with Lemon Zest for another hit of herb-a-licious goodness.