Truth number 1: I have an annoying habit of making things a bit more dramatic and not ideal when someone asks me about something going on in my life.
Friend~ “How’s the new house? You must be so excited to finally be in it, living in your own space, enjoying your freedom.”
Me~”Oh yeah…well, it’s great. I mean, we barely have time to work on anything. All the lightbulbs decided to burn out at the same time and one has to be special ordered online because the previous owners made a bad design choice and there are boxes still unpacked EVERYWHERE.”
Note that the above is an actual conversation that has taken place multiple times with several variations on the melodrama theme. I thought I’d ditched my inner drama queen years ago along with my tiara and stage makeup. Apparently not.
I could have simply answered like this:
“Yes. We are so happy. It’s just me, Bob and the dog. We have the place to ourselves. Our new neighbors are amazing and have baked us cupcakes to welcome us. We’re painting and it’s exciting because the paint is that awesome eco-kind that is crazy expensive but has ZERO paint smell. Life is good.”
I’m working on it. Every time I catch myself heading towards melodrama, I cut myself off at the pass. Do my friends want to hear woes and sob stories all the time? Doubtful.
Truth number 2: I used to avoid asparagus and radishes like the plague. Radishes for good reason. Long story short I had a traumatic radish experience as a child. Asparagus? Well, what kid likes asparagus? Not me. Plus, my parents LOVED the stuff and tried to get me to eat it at every stage of development through the time I left for college. As an act of open rebellion, I said no to asparagus also.
Do you detect a hint of melodrama here, too?
So as a way of healing this silly melodramatic habit, I decided to create a recipe that employed not one, but 2 of my former food enemies, the radish and the asparagus. Incidentally, asparagus season is nearly over here on the Eastern Seaboard, so don’t wait. This recipe is amazing, if I do say so myself. Got the idea from another warm lentil salad recipe, but this one is entirely its own beast.
Springtime is For Ex-Drama Queens:
A Warm Lentil Salad with Asparagus, Radishes and Shiitake Mushrooms
1 cup dried french lentils
2 leeks, sliced thin
1 clove of garlic OR 1 garlic scape, minced
1 cup radishes, sliced thin
1 cup asparagus, cut into inch pieces diagonally
10 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp ginger, minced (optional)
olive oil (Tbs)
umeboshi plum vinegar (splash or 2)
red wine (any kind you have open…a good, healthy splash)
salt and pepper to taste
arugula, washed and torn
**(note: every time i’ve made this recipe, i’ve used arugula as the green base, but i was out the most recent time. kale works well, too. cooked lightly with garlic OR torn and “cooked” by rubbing between your hands)
Begin by soaking the lentils briefly and sorting through to pull out the discolored and misshapen lentils. I used to skip this step, but with french lentils, it’s kind of essential. After a good 10min soak, transfer lentils into a medium saucepan. Fill with new water, just about 1-2 inches above the lentils. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until the lentils are plump and tender. Approx, 10-15 minutes. Drain any remaining water and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pan, medium heat. Add leeks and mushrooms. Cook until leeks and mushrooms are soft. Add in garlic/ginger and a tiny splash of umeboshi to help stir the mix and prevent sticking.
Cook garlic/ginger for 1 minute or so and then add in asparagus. Cook until just bright green and add radishes. Again, just one more minute here and then you can add in the lentils, wine and additional umeboshi vinegar. Lower the heat at this point, as you’re not trying to cook the lentils or veggies further, just heat them and mix the flavors.
Add salt, pepper or dried thyme. Stir very well.
Place arugula into 2 bowls and divide the lentil mix between the 2 bowls.
Heaven for lunch.
Incidentally, if you don’t have anyone to share this tasty meal with, I find it’s even better the next day….
Serve 2 or 4, depending on how hungry you are.