Warm Lentils & Smoked Pork Belly Salad

Filed under Main Dishes, Pork, Pork Belly

INGREDIENTS

Time: About 1 hour, serves 4-6

  • 3/4 pound smoked pork belly, or good-quality slab bacon
  • 1 large onion, halved, each half stuck with a clove
  • 4 thyme branches
  • 1 small carrot, peeled
  • 1 cup small green French lentils, cleaned and rinsed
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed to a paste
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup fruity olive oil
  • 2 tsp capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp cornichons or other sour gherkins, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, plus 1 tbsp for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, plus 1 tbsp for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Put the pork belly or bacon in a medium skillet and cook, turning frequently until browned and slightly crispy. Drain fat and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, put the lentils in a pan. Add the onion half stuck with a clove, 2 small thyme branches and the bay leaf. Add 4 cups water and a little salt. Simmer gently over medium heat until firm-tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain (discard onion,thyme and bay leaf) and keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, if using fingerling potatoes, boil them in their skins in well-salted water until done, about 15 minutes. Drain and keep warm.
  4. Make the vinaigrette: Macerate the shallot in the red wine vinegar for 5 minutes in a small bowl. Add the garlic, Dijon mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Whisk in the olive oil to make a thick sauce.
  6. To serve, Slice the pork belly crosswise into 1/4-inch slices and arrange over the lentils. Stir in the chopped capers and cornichons, 1/4 cup scallions, and 1/2 cup parsley. Toss with 1/2 of the vinaigrette. Cut the potatoes lengthwise and arrange, cut-side up, around the platter. Spoon the remaining vinaigrette over the lentils and potatoes. Sprinkle with an additional 1 tablespoon each scallions and parsley.
  • It's the type of filling, savory dish you want on a cold night, but not too heavy. It is also great cold and would be a terrific picnic salad. For leftovers, use 3 cups of lentils and double the dressing ingredients.
  • This soup recipe, adapted by Heidi Swanson from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, is great when you have leftover rice. It's hearty, healthy, colorful, and capitalizes on what's available in late winter at farmer's markets: lemons, brown rice, fresh cilantro and fresh spinach (sautéed kale or chard would work as well).