Life is a mystery.
I like Jack Handey’s take on mankind’s little idiosyncrasies: 'Maybe in order to understand mankind we have to look at that word itself. MANKIND. Basically, it's made up of two separate words: "mank" and "ind". What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that is why so is mankind.'
The song running through my head today is Funky Cold Medina... actually now it’s Rock the Casbah because I just remembered it a minute ago when I was typing up this post. Damnation! If history repeats itself, if memory serves, this particular ditty stuck around in my head for about five days.
'What’s all this got to do with Pesto Lentil Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella?' you might be wondering. Well done. Excellent question. The link is subtle, but if you really think about it, it’s actually quite obvious.
This salad is very nice, by the way. It's gorgeous as an antipasti with some salami, as a side to chicken or fish, or on its own with some crusty bread. I don’t need a reason to eat buffalo mozzarella, but if I did, this salad would be it.
BM is just about one of the most gorgeous foods known to mankind (ahem). It’s got a clean, light taste that totally disassociates itself from the cow’s milk variety. It’s like the scent of fresh sweat on someone you’re really, really attracted to. Okay, so now I’ve probably put you off it for life, but I promise, it's worth trying — and you’ll see what I mean (in a good way).
God, it’s always a struggle not to end a post with the words 'Bon appetite!' You know, in a clichéd, ironic, post-modern Julia Child rip-off kind of way. Is it just me?
Pesto Lentil Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella
1 cup lentils
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 large handful basil leaves
1 fat clove garlic
1 cup pine nuts, toasted
Juice of half a lemon
1 large tomato, roughly chopped
2 balls buffalo mozzarella
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1. Toss the tomatoes in a little sea salt, and allow to sit for 10 minutes so that the salt can draw out some of the tomato juices. I find this doubles the flavour of the tomato (could it just be the salt?), but also, the tomato juices get mixed in with the dressing when it finally joins the rest of the salad, and this is a very, very good thing.
2. Simmer the lentils in the chicken stock until they are cooked, but still have a little bite. Drain and allow to cool a little.
3. In the meantime, chop the basil roughly, then bash it up in a pestle and mortar with the garlic and a third of the pine nuts, till it's nice and pasty. This isn’t proper pesto, but Parmesan doesn’t have a place in this dish (proper pesto usually includes Parmesan, as you well know).
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the warm (but not hot) lentils, tomato, pesto and chilli. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Add the lemon juice, a good glug of olive oil (about 3 tbsp — okay, it’s more like 5, but I like to drown my salads in olive oil) and stir until the whole mixture is fragrant, glistening and evenly flecked with emerald.
5. Tear the mozzarella into chucks. (Resist the urge to pop a piece into your mouth just yet — it is nearly impossible to stop yourself devouring the whole lot before it’s even joined the salad. Or perhaps that’s just me... Better to err on the side of caution, don’t you think?)
6. Arrange the chunks on plates and spoon over the lentil salad. Top with a final drizzle of olive oil (you heard me) and serve.
The shareeeeef don’t like it... ROCK the casbah, ROCK the casbah...