In many cultures, eating legumes (ie. beans/lentils) on New Year’s Day is considered lucky. The legumes resemble small coins which swell when cooked, so they are symbolic of good fortune and prosperity.
In the Southern United States, the legume of choice for New Year’s Day is black-eyed peas. In Provence, France they favor chickpeas, while in Italy they eat green lentils. And in Brazil they often start the year off with lentil soup.
I love Puy lentils, so one of my favorite New Year’s Day salads is a lentil salad with feta and lots of fresh herbs (I used cilantro/coriander, but you could just as easily use parsley or mint). It is super-easy to make and the lentils cook in 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
PUT LENTIL SALAD WITH FETA AND HERBS
(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)
200g dried Puy lentils
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
10 radishes, quartered
3 scallions/spring onions, thinly sliced
1 small (or half a large) cucumber
150g feta cheese, cubed
4 Tbsp cilantro/coriander leaves, roughly chopped (alternatively, you can use parsley or mint)
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Generous pinch of sea-salt
- Cook the puy lentils by putting them into a pot of cold water and bringing it up to the boil on the stove. As soon as the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to a good simmer and drop 1 tsp salt and the bay leaf into the water. Cook for 20 minutes. The lentils should still have some bite to them when they are done. Drain, discard the bay leaf and spread the lentils on a plate to cool.
- Prepare the dressing by shaking all the dressing ingredients in a clean empty jam-jar and put it aside until the salad is ready to dress.
- Once the Puy lentils are room temperature, add all the salad ingredients to it (except for the feta which will be added later to avoid it crumbling too much), and toss well.
- Add the dressing and toss some more.
- Gently fold the feta into the salad.
- Refrigerate to cool and serve within 48 hours.