Lentil, Fennel and Orange Salad with Tahini Dressing

Still sticking to your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier? Try my delicious and healthy salad of lentils, fennel and oranges served on a bed of arugula with a creamy tahini dressing.french lentils, fennel and cara cara orange salad with tahini dressing

Recently, I celebrated my birthday, the last one in this decade. Usually, especially as I get  (ahem…) older, I don’t like to celebrate it in a big way. I’m quite happy if I can spend a couple of hours just with my husband, doing something fun and of course eating some delightful food. We also have a family tradition of going out (usually just the four of us) to our favorite sushi restaurant on our birthday, whether for grownups or kids. In addition to a great sushi and sashimi they also kindly offer a huge serving of fried ice cream to the birthday person. The dessert is so big the 4 of us have hard time finishing it all! The restaurant, or rather a hole in a wall, is so popular that the wait for the table takes anywhere between 40 minutes to 1 hr.  on a less busy day ( and no, they don’t take reservations).

This year, the whole week leading to my birthday that happened to be on Saturday, was not my best. I was feeling kinda low and few things didn’t go as hoped. Then it turned out that my husband would be working that day, which never happens. And I knew he didn’t contact the babysitter, so nothing was planned for just the two of us. I really wanted to go to sleep and wake up the next day.

Well, it turned out he had a big surprise for me after all. It was a rather small, 13-inch device, quite powerful, with beautiful screen to look at my pictures! My new laptop! I can now see so many details on my pictures and the colors look amazing. Love, love, love it! Thank you Jud!fennel, orange, lentils and arugula salad

My Lentil, Fennel and Orange Salad with Tahini Dressing is sooo delicious! There are earthy French green lentils, crunchy and sweet-smelling fennel, juicy Cara Cara oranges served on a bed of peppery arugula. And the dressing! One of my all-time favorites! Tahini paste mixed with orange zest, lemon juice, rice vinegar, a touch of honey and a generous pinch of cayenne pepper. I make a different variations of it frequently.

The key here when making this salad is to let the dressing marinade the chopped fennel as well as the cooked and still warm lentils. These 2 ingredients should be allowed to absorb the dressing for a minimum 30 minutes.

French green lentils are great for salads since they hold their shape better than other lentils. Le Puy lentils are also French green lentils that come from only one region of France called Auvergne. The volcanic soil the lentils grow in, plenty of sunshine and lack of humidity contribute to the unique taste and texture of Le Puy lentils. Per David Lebovitz, the Le Puy lentils will be labeled as so and will be more expensive but totally worth the splurge.

To prepare the salad, start by cooking the lentils. While they cook, prepare the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients. Dice fennel as well. When lentils are soft, drain the water, return them to the pot and add 1/2 of the dressing. Stir well and let them absorb the dressing for at least 30 minutes. Mix the prepared fennel with half the dressing that’s left and also let it marinade.

When ready to serve, place the lentils and fennel in a bowl, add chopped orange pieces and stir well. Adjust the seasonings and add some salt, if needed. Place a handful of arugula on individual plates and top it with lentil mixture. Drizzle with additional dressing and decorate with few pieces of chopped orange, if desired. Serve.

orange, lentil, fennel salad with tahini dressing

Serves: 2         Prep time: 15 minutes         Ready in: 1hr 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup French lentils, picked through and rinsed
  • 2 cups of water or vegetable broth
  • 1 small fennel bulb, outer layer discarded, diced in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1-2 cara cara oranges (zest 1 orange first and set it aside for dressing) peel and pith removed, segments cut out of membranes and cut into smaller pieces, reserve a few pieces for decoration
  • 3-4 handfuls of arugula

Dressing:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • orange zest, optional
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • generous pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Place lentils in a 2-quart heavy saucepan and add water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until lentils are just tender, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meantime, prepare the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients.
  3. Drain the lentils well and return to the pot. Pour in half of the dressing and stir well. Let it sit for a minimum 30 minutes up to overnight.
  4. Mix the diced fennel with 1/2 of the remaining dressing and also set aside.
  5. When ready to serve, cut the oranges. Place the lentils, fennel and oranges in a bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  6. Place a handful of arugula on individual plates and top with the lentil mixture. Drizzle the remaining dressing. Decorate with the reserved orange pieces. Serve.

Enjoy!

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