We have great memories of al fresco meals, both in the Tuscan countryside and in our Brooklyn back- yard. But this particular combination of simple lentils and creamy burrata is the perfect example of how Tuscans can take humble foods and turn them into something extraordinary.
Makes 4 Servings
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small red onion, nely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, cut into 1∕4-inch dice
- 1 medium celery rib, cut into 1∕4-inch dice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup green lentils (lentils de Puy, see Note), rinsed and drained 1∕2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1∕8 teaspoon hot red pepper akes
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 1∕4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon minced fresh at-leaf parsley 8 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces 2 burrata cheeses (about 14 ounces total)
- To make the lentils: Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables so en, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the lentils and add enough water to cover the lentils by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the salt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook at a steady simmer until the lentils are barely tender (not mushy or falling apart), about 20 minutes. Drain well in a wire sieve. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool.
- To make the dressing: Whisk the lemon juice, hot red pepper akes, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper together in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Whisk in the parsley. Pour over the lentils and mix gently. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. ( e salad can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Reseason the salad before serving.)
- Mix in the basil. Tear each burrata into quarters. Serve the lentil salad, topping each with a bur- rata slice and its creamy insides.
NOTE: While you can make this with standard brown lentils, it is worth searching out the small dark green ones, o en imported from France. (Between us, they are not Italian, but we like them anyway!) If using large brown lentils, increase the cooking time to 30 minutes.