Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
This quote, attributed to Voltaire, has become one of my favorites over the past few years. And yet, I haven’t heeded this wisdom at all when it comes to this blog. If you scroll a bit, you’ll see that I’ve been posting surreptitiously behind a maintenance screen for almost a year. (My real first post explains why this blog exists.)
I kept waiting for the perfect moment to launch. First, I wanted the design to be done. The wildly talented ladies behind Wooden Spoons Kitchen, who sadly are closing up shop later this year, completed their work in the spring. Then, I thought, I’ll wait until after the photo shoots for my book but oh! Then there’s a wedding in Mexico. If I’m not launching until after Mexico, I might as well wait until I get back from my vacation. And on and on it goes.
In truth, I think I’ve been a little afraid to launch. I wanted more than the perfect moment. I wanted to know I could create a damn near perfect blog post, every time I tried. You see, so many bloggers do jobs that would require eight different people at a magazine (writer, editor, recipe developer, copy editor, prop stylist, food stylist, photographer, photo editor) and do them all pretty well. It’s totally intimidating.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Right.
And so here we are. Hi!
I did, in fact, wait until after my vacation, a truly wonderful trip to France with my husband, daughter and for part of the time, my dad. While there, we cooked very simply: Grilled or pan-seared fish with tomato salads were in heavy rotation. I also re-affirmed my love for a simple lentil salad, which we took out on a picnic one day with some spectacular canned tuna and, of course, a bottle of rosé. (That’s so us!)
Since being home, I’ve made a version of this lentil salad twice already. It’s a great make-ahead dish for lunch al desko (and #notasaddesklunch), whether you work in an office or at home. I also love having it around as a building block for a quick dinner: You can just add cooked salmon, pulled rotisserie chicken or a fried egg to make it feel a bit more complete. And finally, this is one of those dishes I know that my daughter will always eat. Sometimes I mix in a little cooked broccoli or feta cheese; sometimes I leave it as is.
The only fussy part is that the salad is best with lentils that stay together after they’re cooked: French green lentils (de puy); Umbrian lentils or those sexy black beluga lentils all work well. If you can only find your standard brown lentils, no sweat. The salad will still be good. And when it comes to a quick lunch or dinner, good is perfect.
- ½ pound lentils, such as lentils de Puy, black lentils or Umbrian lentils
- 2 peeled garlic cloves
- 2 springs of thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- In a medium pot, cover the lentils with water by 2 inches and add the garlic and 1 of the thyme springs; bring to a boil. Cover the pot partially and simmer over moderate heat until the lentils are just tender, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the lentils. Remove from the heat and add ½ teaspoon of salt; let stand for 5 minutes then drain completely. Discard the garlic and thyme sprig.
- In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt; cook over moderate heat until just starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots and other thyme sprig and cook until the carrots are crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cumin and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Scrape the vegetables into a large bowl, discarding the remaining thyme sprig. Add the lentils and vinegar and toss well. Season with more salt and some pepper, drizzle with a little more olive oil, if desired, and serve.