Wednesday, 11 April 2012 | 39 comments

Feeling full + a warm lentil salad with red wine

This week, thoughts banged against the walls of my head. Certain moments hit me in the gut. I wanted to tell you about a dream I had: I stood in the kitchen with my mom, frying up strips of bacon in a cracked ceramic dish. They crinkled into little abalone, seashell-like cracklings. We ate them, our fingers greasy. They were salty and good. I woke up crying and craving bacon. My baby chickens (BABY. CHICKENS. !!!!!) arrived. I have spent every spare second with them, sitting with my tea, watching them cheeeerrp-cheep curiously over their world. Flats of favas and kale and peas are in the ground, the first occupants of this year’s garden. The forsythia has faded, but I discovered three clumps of peonies (a favorite) at the house, tight buds closed—for now.The car started shaking, rattling my teeth, and I had to take it to the shop. Girlfriends let me sleep over a few nights and drove me to the bus in the mornings. We smuggled booze into a late-night, 3-dollar movie. I felt lucky. I bought gifts for three different weddings in the next few months. I felt older.Ben is coming home. I’ve wanted to tell you how it feels to go grocery shopping knowing that there will soon be two of us in this big old house after a winter of one, how I bought cereal even though I never eat it, and how it felt like a happy secret to stow it away in the pantry. I wanted to write about how I smiled scrubbing the refrigerator and cleaning the drain yesterday, not realizing it until my cheeks hurt when I finished the chore. I itched to record these to-the-brimmings. For three nights I sat down to write, but came up with nothing more than a bullet-point journal entry. It didn’t bother me, though, the way I sometimes feel when words won’t come. I put down the pen or closed the laptop. I threw open the windows. I ate lentils, three nights in a row, once with a poached egg, once on toast, and once with greens. I sat on the porch, watching the night come. I felt full.

Warm lentil salad with red wine

I wrote this recipe to go with a local winery’s release of its light-bodied, pretty, fruity syrah. So, if you can, find a lighter red wine—not too much body, not too much oak, dry, but with lots of cherry-berry on the nose.

You will need

    1 cup dried green lentils
    1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 clove garlic, pounded to a paste or crushed and minced
    1/2 cup dry red wine (see head note)
    1 sprig thyme (or other woody herb of your choice)
    2 tablespoons plain, Greek-style yogurt, or creme fraiche
    2 cups packed greens of your choice, such as spinach, arugula, or frisee
    Kosher salt
    Ground black pepper
    Chopped fresh parsley (optional)


    In a pot, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover. Cook, 15-20 minutes, until lentils are tender and water is absorbed.

    In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook, over medium heat, for several minutes, until the onion is softened and translucent. Add the garlic and sprig of thyme and stir, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and stir to incorporate with the onions. Pour in the red wine and cook until absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and remove the sprig of thyme. Stir in yogurt or creme fraiche. Taste for salt and season if necessary.

    Transfer the lentils to a platter or to plates and toss with the greens. Grind black pepper over the top, and sprinkle liberally with chopped parsley if desired. Serve warm.

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§ 39 responses to Feeling full + a warm lentil salad with red wine

  • thank you for your heartfelt reflections………the unfolding ferns are so beautiful…… this recipe

  • Chickens! So jealous.

  • Funny how some weeks are so pointed and others just meander. I like both. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Love this recipe, I’ll try it today! Thanks for sharing:)

  • Sarah, it sounds like you have a very eventful life at the moment. Those chickens are adorable! And I can’t wait to see what comes of your garden. Your lentil salad sound delicious.

  • Love this post.
    I made a lentil salad the other day that we’ve been eating for lunches all week. Must be somethingin the air.

  • Chloe

    i love this space so much. your thoughts are beautiful. i’m glad to be at the yellow house, thanks for welcoming me.

  • So beautiful……

  • What an amazingly beautiful post. I can’t believe there are baby chickens…what do you do with them as they grow? Eggs? Do you eat them later on (feels very odd to say that)?

    • Thanks, Oana—they’re for eggs (and for enjoyment; such interesting ladies they are)! We have a coop out in the yard (it’s the little white building you saw in the woods on the spring equinox post). Technically, they could be for eating (not a weird thing to say, either), but by the time a chicken has stopped laying they’re not much good to eat.

      Also…there are ducklings. (!!!)

  • Maggie

    Sarah, another beautiful, touching peek (peep?!?) into your life. Thank you!

  • Sarah, your entry has a patient, waiting quality to it, just like early spring itself. Thank you.

  • I loved everything about this post. Thanks for sharing these genuine, meandering-yet-connected thoughts. (And: my fellow eats cereal, too, but like you, I never buy it for myself. A happy chore; cheers to your being together!)

  • I could happily eat lentils three nights in a row too :-) My great aunt taught me how to cook them with a little water, onion, bay leaf and carrot and I used the same recipe for years, but now I love looking at different ways to cook them and red wine sounds like the perfect addition.

  • A several-day-spanning lentil salad is exactly what I make when I am cooking for one. And I’m jealous of your baby chickens — we don’t have any outdoor space, but someday….

  • This post is incredibly lovely and honest. Sometimes not forcing words brings the ones needed.
    I love the last paragraph.

  • Lovely — all of it. Here’s to happy homecomings!

  • isn’t it funny how buying a box of cereal can mean so much more than just grains in a box? I’m not a cereal eater either, but my husband, every morning, pours himself a bowl, always making sure their is enough milk for each bite, which often means a bowl of milk with a few shredded wheats floating on the top. I love this quirky habit of his.. I love buying him cereal, often buying more than he could ever eat in a week. It just feels nice. It’s the little things. This is our life, together.

    enough about cereal, your lentils look wonderful. I always want to eat lentils but never quiet know what to do with them. And the chicks, oh my goodness, how I wish I lived in the country and not in the city, but I guess that’s just something to look forward too.

  • Cooking for two is so much nicer!

    If you love lentils, mujaddarah is lovely. Cook lentils in water for 15 minutes, add wheat bulgur and cook another 5 to 10 minutes until all is tender and cooked through (add more water if necessary). While the lentils are cooking, brown a chopped onion over low heat in 1/3 cup olive oil. When the onions are dark brown and the lentils are done, toss it all together and salt well. Serve with applesauce and/or cottage cheese. Divine.

  • I absolutely love lentils! You have a great site- love the logo!

  • Lentils do that. Give us that ‘just full’ feeling, but in a good way, not the ‘oh gah i ate an entire steak’ way. Happy, content, satisfied. Like living a good life, full of promise and anticipation.

    The story is almost better than the recipe. But, not quite. :-)

  • Wonderful and touching moments and reflections. Thank you for sharing.

  • Beautifully written.

  • I love your words.

  • teti.konstantinidou

    I love this recipe. It matches your thoughtful words. Pulses are so good. They are staple food in our Mediterranean diets. We generally cook lentils with laurel and vinegar and season them with tomato and oregano, here in Greece. But you make the dish just as sour with the addition of yogurt, which tastes great. My own lentil salad recipe is made with: lentils (soaked in water overnight), lots of spring onions, yellow onion, tomato, balsamico vinegar and black pepper. I also like the idea of cooking lentils and bulgur together (noted by Sarah), I will try it.
    Best wishes from Greece

    • That lentil-bulgur salad is good…I’ve been thinking of coming up with a spring riff on it. Your Mediterranean way sounds worth a try :) Thanks for stopping by, Teti.

  • I’m glad you lingered, over words, lentils, dreams, and home. All of it filled with truth and beauty!

  • My goodness, chickens! I am so excited for you! I’m always proposing to Octavian without any seriousness that we should just get some chickens, let them live in the partly enclosed courtyard of our building, and hope that the neigbhours don’t notice.

    This was a beautiful post. I know what you mean about weddings. My first was just last weekend–first time at a friend’s wedding. I got tear-eyed when I saw the groom standing at the altar. He looked so grown-up in a suit–a silly thought, since he’s older than me, but I couldn’t help thinking that!

    I love lentil salads. I will have to give this one a try soon. Be well.

  • Gosh darn, you have a way around language. Can’t wait to hear more about those chickens.

  • You, my friend, are the real deal. I feel, eat, taste, smell, and savor everything you right about: lentils, bacon, tears.

  • And of course, in my exhausted delirium, I meant WRITE. Duh.

  • Maggie Bell-Walker

    My husband accidentally made this recipe for the dinner guests we had over tonight (we had planned to make a recipe that we had already taken for a test drive, but we had a miscommunication!), and to our great relief almost everyone had second helpings. And they are a bunch of carnivores! So I just wanted to write and say thanks for the great recipe! Your photos make it look lovely and delicious, but it was even better in reality than your pictures made it look!

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