A pantry-driven lunch or dinner as easy and breezy as summer should be. Once you have the lettuce, pantry ingredients will take care of the rest. I like brown lentils, but feel free to swap in green or black. (Avoid red lentils, which would be too soft in this particular recipe.) Likewise, walnuts can be replaced depending on whatever you have around: Pecans? Cashews? Those would be great too. When it comes to pickles, there are tons of options. You just want something that’s funky, salty, and briny, so it can double as a topping and dressing. Think: dill cucumbers, peppadews, cherry peppers, pepperoncini, kimchi, or sauerkraut.
This is one of our Big Little Recipes, our weekly column all about dishes with big flavor and little ingredient lists. Do you know (and love) a recipe that’s low in ask, high in reward? Let us know in the comments. —Emma Laperruque
Watch This Recipe
Walnut-Lentil Lettuce Wraps
2 to 3
1/3 to 1/2 cups
finely chopped pickled or fermented vegetables (see Author Notes for suggestions), brine reserved
canola oil, divided
walnut pieces (or another nut, chopped into pieces)
Kosher salt, to taste
head butter lettuce (or another wrappable lettuce), separated into individual leaves
Combine the lentils and 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a confident simmer, then reduce to a soft simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain, then drizzle with a splash of pickle brine, to taste, while the lentils are still warm.
When the lentils are done, combine 2 tablespoons of canola oil, 2 tablespoons of pickle brine, and shake until emulsified and creamy. Taste and season with salt as needed.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium to medium-low heat and add 2 teaspoons of canola oil. Add the walnuts, toss a couple times so all the nuts are coated, then cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the walnuts are toasty and golden, stirring frequently. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and cooked lentils. Use a fork or potato masher to smash the mixture until broken down but still chunky. Season with salt to taste.
To serve: Set out a plate of lettuce leaves, a bowl of the lentil-walnut mixture, the pickle brine dressing, and whatever pickled or fermented vegetables you’re using for sprinkling on top.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.