The key to cooking beans from scratch for a salad like this, is to cook them until tender, but not until they are falling apart. Feel free to make the curry vinaigrette a day or two in advance. If you like a creamier dressing, toss a big dollop of Greek yogurt into the curried vinaigrette, taste, and go from there. I use black lentils here because they hold their shape quite well, you definitely don't want to use a bean or lentil that goes to mush.
3 cups cooked beans - I used equal amounts Pebble beans and Mayacoba beans, but you could certainly use white beans, black beans, black eyed beans, whatever - I bet edamame would be great in this salad. And while I like to cook my beans from their dried state, this is a forgiving salad and canned beans that have been well rinsed will work too. You can serve this salad hot or at room temperature, whatever your preference.
1 cup cooked black lentils*
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced into crescents
3/4 cup celery, chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon of fine-grain sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of your favorite curry powder
1-2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (from 1-inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
In a large bowl toss the beans, black lentils, red onion, and celery. Make the curry vinaigrette by mashing the garlic clove with the salt into a thick paste. In a bowl or jar whisk together this garlic paste, the curry powder, fresh ginger, lemon juice, and olive oil. Whisk well, taste, and add adjust flavors/salt if needed. Pour about half of the dressing over the beans and give it all a toss. Add more dressing a bit at a time until it is to your liking. Taste, make sure the salad has enough salt or the the beans will taste flat and the rest of the flavors won't pop. I like to serve this salad family style in a big bowl or on a platter with a big spoon all sprinkled with cilantro.
Serves about 4 - 6 as a side.
*Wash and pick over the lentils. Place them in a large saucepan and cover with water using 2-3x the quantity of lentils. Bring to a boil, scale back the heat a bit and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Taste along the way, when done the lentils should be tender but not splitting apart. Salt to taste at this point. Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid.
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