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“When I had this salad at Ellē in Washington, DC, it was the sexiest dish using beans I had ever seen: stunning green leaves with red-tinged edges, a pale green dressing, and shiny black lentils. The taste was even better: the spicy, tart, and herbaceous dressing, crisp lettuce, and earthy and crunchy lentils (plus seeds). It was simple and complex at the same time, almost elemental in its appeal. I streamlined Chef Brad Deboy’s recipe for my own home cooking: instead of making a curry paste from scratch for the dressing, I started with a store-bought version and amped it up with lime and fresh basil. You’ll have more dressing than you need for this recipe, but you can refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 1 week and use it for potato salads, other greens, and as a dip.”
Reprinted with permission from Cool Beans by Joe Yonan. Credit: Photos by Aubrie Pick, food styling by Lillian Kang, courtesy Ten Speed Press.
1. To make the dressing: In the large bowl of a food processor, combine the tofu, basil, olive oil, curry paste, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, agave, and salt. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Taste and add more salt if needed.
2. To make the salad: Combine the lentils with 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse with cold water, then scatter on paper towels and gently pat dry.
3. Pour the oil to a depth of 1 inch into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Line a bowl with paper towels. When the oil shimmers, sprinkle in the lentils, being careful to avoid splatters. Cook until the lentils stop bubbling, about 5 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to scoop them into the paper-towel-lined bowl. When the lentils are cool, remove the paper towels, and stir in the sesame seeds, flaxseeds, salt, and garlic powder.
4. To assemble the salad, scrape 1/2 cup of the dressing into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, drizzle in a little olive oil, and whisk to combine. Drop in the lettuce leaves and gently toss until they are well coated. Sprinkle with half the lentil mixture and gently toss to coat. Add another 1/4 cup of the dressing, if you’d like, and toss to coat.
5. To serve, divide the salad among serving plates, sprinkle each serving with the remaining lentil mixture, and garnish with the chopped basil and mint.