Wednesday, January 27, 2016

French Lentil, Lemon and Tuna Salad

A friend of mine organized a group recently and we had our first gathering yesterday. It is what one would call a cookbook book club. We chose a cookbook from which to cook from several months ago and each person brought a dish from that book. We are doing it as a luncheon and it was so much fun sampling all the recipes and of course, getting to know new people through one of my favorite things, "FOOD".

Our book,

This book was published in 2010 and one I have cooked from many times. However, when deciding on which recipe I wanted to take to our luncheon I wanted to prepare one which I had not ever prepared before and wanted it to be very nutritious. I think I hit a homerun with my selection and it was delicious.
It has several steps but is very easy to prepare.
Lentil, Lemon, and Tuna Salad
2 teaspoons grainy mustard, preferably French
2 teaspoons black olive tapenade
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
About 3 cups cooked lentils du Puy
1 small preserved lemon
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 5-to 6-ounce can chunk light tuna, packed in oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Stir together the mustard and tapenade in a small jar. Add the vinegar and olive oil and shake until well blended. Pour dressing over the warm cooked lentils and stir to blend.
Using only the rind of the preserved lemons, finely chop. Stir the lemon and scallions into the salad.
Drain the tuna and use a fork to flake it over the salad. Season very lightly with salt and generously with pepper, and toss. Taste for seasonings and lightly drizzle over a little olive before serving. Cover and chill for a couple of hours or overnight. Before serving taste once again for seasoning, add some halved cherry tomatoes for color and garnish and you may want another light drizzle of olive oil.
French lentils
1 cup French green lentils
1 clove
1 small onion
1 medium carrot, trimmed, peeled and cut into pieces
1 celery stalk, trimmed, peeled, and cut into pieces
1 garlic clove, smashed, peeled, and germ removed
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon Cognac or other brandy (optional)
1 shallot, finely chopped, rinsed, and patted dry (optional)
Put the lentils in a strainer and pick through them, discarding any bits of stone that might have escaped the packers; rinse under cold running water.
Turn the lentils into a medium saucepan, cover them with cold water, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes; spill the lentils out into the strainer. Drain, rinse the lentils again, and rinse out the saucepan.
Press the clove into the onion and toss the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaf into the pan. Pour in the broth or water, stir in the lentils, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a steady simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are almost tender. As the lentils cook, skim off the solids that rise to the top and stir as needed. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the lentils are tender, another 5 to 10 minutes, then pour in the Cognac, if you're using it. Give everything a good stir and another minute over the heat.
Drain the lentils, reserving the cooking liquid if you're going to want to reheat them. Remove the vegetables and either discard them all or discard the clove and bay leaf and finely chop the vegetables, which will be soft but tasty; stir the  vegetables back into the lentils if you're using them. Stir in the shallot, if you'd like.
The lentils are ready to be served now, or set aside and reheated over low heat in the liquid you've reserved, or used in other recipes.
This salad I thought to be excellent and I would definitely serve this for a luncheon or the lentils by themselves as a side dish. I did add in the cognac at the end of the lentil recipe as the recipe suggests and it gives the lentils an extra flavor boost. I  thought the cognac lended itself to a less woodsy taste too that you sometimes have with lentils. I also used the preserved lemons called for when putting the salad together, had a difficult time finding them but ordered them online. In my opinion, one could just as easily use fresh lemon zest which is what I will use the next time I prepare this dish. I always prepare a recipe the first time as it reads and then make changes when preparing it again.
I thought this salad made a particularly pleasing to the eye presentation as well.
Our luncheon was a great success and I will share some of the other dishes brought to our luncheon. I didn't get a picture of everything served but will share what I do have. We served everything buffet style and our hostess had put together this beautiful flower arrangement for the centerpiece. And of course, as part of the centerpiece was the book we had all cooked from for our luncheon.

Chicken b'stilla
(this was amazing, to taste and the presentation was exceptional)
Chicken, Apples, and Cream a' la Normande
Gorgonzola Apple Quiche

Cauliflower-Bacon Gratin
Crab and Grapefruit Salad
Double Chocolate Mousse Cake
This cake was served with an Olive Oil Ice Cream which also came from the same book and was so unusual and delicious. The person who brought this recipe piped whipped cream around the outer edge just before serving. Over the top delicious!!!!!
Orange-Almond Tart
There were two other dishes that I failed to get a picture of but they too were amazing, a Leek and Potato Soup which I have made before and posted here and an Orange and Olive Salad. As you can only imagine this luncheon was a feast like none other but more importantly the fellowship was wonderful. Many of these women I am meeting for the first time but I must say, we surely do have a lot in common, good food and having a great time together. I should also mention that this cookbook, Dorie Greenspan's, Around My French Table was a great book to be cooking from. It is filled with so many wonderful recipes and I highly recommend the book. 
Our next gathering will be the last Tuesday in February and another luncheon like this can not come soon enough. Did I mention that my poor husband did not get a presentable dinner last night since I was stuffed and did not even want to look at food. The good news is that he survived and enjoyed me sharing our gathering of the day. 
Consider starting a Cookbook Book Club of your own, it is quite the experience. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and do come again soon.
I am linking this post to Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm. To enjoy other excellent recipes click HERE.