Growing up in one of the all time hippy enclaves of California (anywhere 300 miles north or south of SF) you can’t expect a kid to have been shielded from Lentils–and all that their groupies bring with them. Tiny legumes were once just fodder for side B Nursery Rhymes (Peas Porridge Slop) or the murky bath for ham hocks down south in Ol’ Kin-tucky. Then the hippies got hold of them. Hippies made some questionable things cool, at least temporarily: Dirty, tangled hair, many white people jammed into a tipi, lentils. Lentils endure as pretty cool.
My childhood was enriched with shiploads of hippy potlucks, and those parties were enriched with small, hard beans, peas and seeds. Was it the salty, mesquite scented smoke from anemic (but omnipresent) ’70s pot or from a pot of burning French lentils? Both of these smokes infused my childhood.
Supposedly inclusive, Free-Loving Hippies embraced beans selectively. They said yes to lentils and tiny beans, because France/artists/Morocco/Bohemians? Yes to black beans, because Peru/Llama fiber sweaters/strings of rustic bells? But lima beans or navy beans? No, Because racism etc. There were cool beans, acceptable to serve at the Be-In, and then there were The Man beans.
No bra-less halter top wearing feminist worth her billowing bell bottoms made from curtains (my mom) would be caught dead bringing pork ‘n’ beans to a Big Sur beach picnic. Pork ‘n’ beans is what the culottes wearing, tan nylons knee-hi wearing Bank Lady brings to her bank picnic. The cool-kid hippies brought red lentil dip with herb riddled yogurt glurped on top . . . or like whatever man.
When some people get homesick, they long for apple pie or mashed potatoes. I crave lentil soup with big hunks of unpeeled garlic, caraway seeds and odd sized rounds of carrot floating freely. We’re not making that. Here is my ode to the potlucks of my childhood, Peace Trio Salad and Sprouted Lentil Hippy Dip. Peace.
Peace Trio Salad and Sprouted Lentil Hippy Dip
- 1 cup each, red lentils, green French lentils and yellow split peas
- 1 (1/4) cups pine nuts, divided
- 5 tablespoons olive oil divided (See FOR THE DIP below)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- one medium to large yellow onion
- Juice from two medium to large lemons divided (see FOR THE DIP)
- 1 large, ripe tomato
- 4-6 large strawberries
- 1 bunch basil coarsely chopped
- 1/2 bunch Italian parsley coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch chives chopped fine
- 1 cup mixed pitted olives. I used little Nicoise and meaty green Castelvetranos.
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
- 2 tablespoon honey
- zest from one small orange or mandarin (about a teaspoon)
- 2 tablespoons capers plus 2 teaspoons caper liquid
- 2-3 teaspoons salt
- Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- Optional: 1 cup creme fresh or whole fat greek yogurt for garnish
Soak legumes overnight before cooking. To sprout: soak an extra day or two, rinsing beans gently but thoroughly every 12 hours. I soaked mine overnight and they sprouted late afternoon the next day. You know they have sprouted when they produce a little white tail nub. That shows you they are alive . . . because they are GROWING A TAIL.
Cook lentils/peas separately on the stove top in three pots of salted water. I gently boiled the French lentils for 10 minutes, yellow peas for 14 minutes and the red lentils for 8 minutes. You want them tender NOT squishy. Drain well and add to a big salad or mixing bowl
Chop 1 large yellow onion into penny sized pieces. Caramelize by frying in a deepish pan/pot in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Saute/fry over medium heat, stirring every minute or so until the onions are gorgeous glazey brown. This could take 15-20 minutes or more. Don't crowd the onions. Cook in two batches if necessary.
Toast 1 (1/4) cup pine nuts in a big skillet over medium heat. Do not look away! I burn these little bastards all the time and it is always a brutal financial/emotional blow. They continue to brown after being removed from heat. Remove from the pan AS SOON AS THEY BEGIN TO BROWN. Add 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts to the legumes.
Coarsely chop 1/2 bunch parsley and 1 whole bunch basil. Add to salad bowl
Finely chop 1 bunch chives. Add to salad bowl.
Chop 1 cup mixed, pitted olives lightly: some in half, some quartered, some not at all. Just a quick run through with the knife to break them up a bit. Add to salad
Slice and chop tomato into small pieces. Add to salad
Slice and chop 4-6 strawberries into small pieces. Add to salad.
Add two tablespoons capers to salad
At the bottom of a separate bowl, whisk up your dressing ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
Juice from one large lemon
1 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon orange zest
2-3 teaspoon salt
fresh cracked black pepper
Gently combine ingredients in the salad bowl. Drizzle on the dressing and toss.
FOR THE DIP
Add two cups of the mixed, dressed salad to a food processor
Add juice from the second lemon
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil
Add 2 teaspoons liquid from capers or pepperoncini peppers.
Add 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts.
Blend until very smooth
Place dip in a bowl and cover with an additional drizzle of olive oil to keep from browning.
Serve salad with sliced avocados (Hippy ketchup) and a dollop of creme fresh or greek yogurt. Serve dip with raw vegetables, crackers, pita bread or chips.
This recipe makes enough salad to serve 8-10 as a side dish or 12-36 as a pot luck dish of little plates or dip. You could halve this recipe for a dinner side or main course lunch for 4-6. I made the whole recipe and had two fried eggs over the salad for breakfast. It's also my lunch at work for the next 17 days. It makes a lot.