Want to shake-up your summer salad routine? Put down the box of pasta and reach for lentils instead. Lentil salads are not only the perfect canvas for summer’s best produce, they can be made in advance, toted anywhere, and withstand even the hottest, sweatiest days.
This particular version is all about the power of marinating—the lentils after they're cooked which soak-up a ton of flavor, and juicy, ripe tomatoes and thinly-sliced zucchini which take to marinating beautifully. And not just any marinade, but a zippy, bold take on salsa verde featuring lemon and pistachios. I like to finish the salad with mozzarella, more pistachios, and tons of herbs—but in the spirit of summer, feel free to play around with the accoutrements. Different cheeses, herbs, nuts, and vegetables are all fair game—say, sweet corn with avocado, tomatoes, and cilantro, or a Greek-inspired take with cucumber, olives, feta, and lots of dill. Fresh, light and bright, it’s a salad that demands nothing yet gives everything in return.
For the salad:
1 1/4 cups
1 or 2
medium zucchini (about 8 ounces total), sliced into coins 1/8-inch thick
Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
cherry tomatoes, halved
Aleppo pepper, or a smaller amount of red pepper flakes (to taste)
fresh mozzarella (sold in rounds or logs), cut into small cubes
Place lentils and bay leaf in a saucepan and cover by several inches of water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender but still firm, about 20 minutes (or according to package directions). Add additional water, if needed, to keep the lentils covered.
Meanwhile, to make the salsa verde: Mince and smash the anchovies into a paste with the side of your knife. In a small bowl or jar, combine the anchovies, pistachios, capers, lemon zest and juice, parsley, basil, and a few pinches of salt. Add the olive oil, stirring well to integrate. Taste and adjust the acid and seasoning.
To prep the vegetables. Toss the zucchini in a few tablespoons of salsa verde and pinch of salt and black pepper. Season the cherry tomatoes with salt.
When lentils are done, drain well in a colander, discarding the bay leaf. Return the lentils to the pan. Immediately fold in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the salsa verde and Aleppo pepper. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then taste and adjust seasoning. Toss in the zucchini, cherry tomatoes and their juices, and more salsa verde, to taste -- then add the mozzarella, pistachios, and herbs and toss a few more times. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Covered, the salad will keep well in the refrigerator for several days.