This salad so perfectly sums up the slightly crazy weather we're having in Auckland. Some of my favourite tastes of summer sitting atop broody lentils. The temps have been high and there is a ton of gorgeous summer produce about but there's been also wind, rain and days of dark skies. I actually don't mind the weird summer we are having. Being pregnant during endless heat can be a bit much. The cooler days are great for getting out and enjoying a big walk in the middle of the day.
Lovely beluga lentils have a firmness and a glossy dark colour that makes them a beautiful addition to salads. I buy mine from Sabato here in Auckland. You'll find them at other fine food stores too. An alternative would be French green (or Puy) lentils. They also have the necessary firmness. Use the best quality buffalo mozzarella you can. It makes a huge difference to the salad.
My book (peek below) will hopefully be online for sale at the end of this week. I'm ridiculously excited to get it into your hands.
Buffalo mozzarealla & beluga lentils w/ basil dressing & cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup beluga lentils (Can also use French green lentils)
1 cup vegetable stock
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 red onion - peeled and sliced very thinly
125g Buffalo mozzarella (I use Clevedon Buffalo Mozzarella)
250g cherry tomatoes - halved
Handful fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic - finely diced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon coconut or light muscovado sugar
Large handful fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small jug or bowl and use a hand blender to blitz until smooth. Set aside until ready to use. Placing in the fridge for 15 minutes before serving will result in a thicker dressing.
Place the lentils and stock in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes, with a lid slightly ajar, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir through the lemon zest. Leave to cool to room temperature before stirring through the red onion, half the dressing and half the tomatoes.
To assemble: Spoon the lentils onto a large plate. Scatter with the remaining cherry tomatoes. Tear the mozzarella into roughly 6 pieces and place on top. Drizzle additional dressing over the mozzarella and tomatoes as desired. Season with a little cracked black pepper and scatter with fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately.