Lentil and Kale Salad for January 5?

Yes, it's almost March already, but we dug back to January 5 in our William-Sonoma Vegetable of the Day cookbook for a "Warm Lentil & Kale Salad with Bacon."  We liked it a lot the way the recipe called for it, but there are ways you can modify it in order to simplify a rather more complex process than absolutely necessary--or to make it vegetarian.

This is a good time to show you some nifty kitchen-inspired gifts that my friend Donna got for me one Christmas.  Essentially, they are post-it notes (in all sorts of sizes and variations of design) which allow you to take notes on a recipe.  Yes, of course, you can write in the notes yourself on the recipe, but this is a nice way not to mar the pages of today's beautifully designed and executed cookbooks.

As you can see above, you can jot down some notes to remind you what you thought about that particular recipe.  Sometimes, you can just stick on a "Quick and Easy" or "Great for Kids," but other times you might want to make more involved notes. 

The Warm Lentil & Kale Salad turned out great, but it also produced many items of consideration for revisiting the recipe.  For instance, while it was "very tasty" and had "lots of flavorful elements," there were ways in which the recipe required more work than absolutely necessary. 

  • If we are in a mood for a lentil and kale salad, perhaps we don't need to fry up bacon in it as well.  While we LOVE bacon, not adding the bacon allows you to make it a vegetarian salad.
  • We appreciate the orange color that the carrots brought to the recipe--and the fact that carrots often accompany lentils--but it seemed that chopping and roasting the carrots didn't add enough "value" to the recipe to justify the extra labor.  
  • Why not replace roast carrots with grated (or otherwise just food-processor-chopped) carrots?  That way, you can have the brighter color of raw carrots along with the crunch of the bacon you'd be missing (should you decide to skip that step).
  • It's not clear to me that the thyme and especially the garlic needed to be wrapped in a cheesecloth for the stewing of the lentils.  I only wrapped the thyme because mine were pretty dessicated (by the way, this is a great use for thyme springs which you might be about to throw out!), but I left peeled whole garlic cloves in the pot without wrapping them.
All in all, a very nice main course salad!


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