Summer potluck lentil and potato salad with red onion, and (optional) grilled salmon…all tossed with a yogurt-dill dressing. Perfect for a picnic!
A lot of my salads tend to be thrown together from the latest scavenger hunt in rarely visited caverns of my refrigerator. Some wilted kale from the bottom of the produce drawer gets thrown in ice water to rehydrate, and make it like new again (sure wish my skin was like that). A last apple is washed, cored and sliced up. If I need a little protein, I might add a soft- or hard-boiled egg. And my dressing rarely strays from olive oil, sherry vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. It’s all good, but I’ve been in a serious rut.
This time, I wanted to make an entrée salad. And because it’s summer, an EASY entrée salad. I took an approach as if there might be both vegetarians and omnivores at an imaginary potluck picnic and made two versions of the same salad, and yes, they both pass the “easy summer cooking” litmus test.
Both are a potato salad served at room temperature, tossed in red onions and cooked lentils, but the omnivore version mixes in some grilled salmon. Both are dressed with a yogurt-boursin (cheese)-dill dressing. Best of all, they’re made with ingredients I always have on hand, except perhaps the dill. I don’t know why I haven’t made this before!
The Wimpy Vegetarian Table
The omnivore version of this warm salad tosses in some grilled salmon (as pictured), but the vegetarian version can be easily served as a main meal with the lentils packing enough protein and depth into the salad to satisfy everyone. More details are provided in the below recipe.
Serves: Serves 6 - 8
- 5 cups halved baby potatoes
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ - ¾ tsp kosher salt, according to taste
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
- ¾ cup cooked brown lentil beans (or your favorite lentils)
- 1½ Tbsp minced chives
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 3 Tbsp soft cheese with herbs (I used Boursin garlic and herbed cheese)
- 2 Tbsp plain full-fat yogurt
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp chopped dill
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¾ pound fresh salmon filet
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp chopped fresh dill
- 1 tsp peanut oil
- Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Toss the potatoes in oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Roast for 20 minutes, or until tender. The blade of a knife should be able to easily puncture the potatoes.
- I frequently have a stash of cooked lentils in the refrigerator, but they're so easy, and quick, to make. If your lentils aren't already cooked, go here for detailed instructions on cooking lentil beans.
- Combine the roasted potatoes, ¾ cup of cooked lentils (or more, if you prefer), the minced chives, and chopped red onion together in a large bowl.
- Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. This makes more dressing than you will need, so reserve the rest to re-dress leftovers the next day. Lightly toss.
- Fire up the grill, nice and hot. You should be able to hold your hand two inches above the grill for five seconds. Lightly oil a grill pan suitable for grilling fish or vegetables. I like to use peanut oil for its high smoke temperature rather than olive oil.
- Bring the salmon to room temperature, rub a little oil on it, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place the salmon, flesh side down on the grill pan, skin side up. Grill for 5 minutes. Flip, add the dill to the top of the fish, and cook another five minutes or more, depending on how well cooked you like your fish. My instructions are for grilling one inch thick salmon medium-rare.
- Divide the Vegetarian Lentil Potato Salad into two portions. One portion should be ⅓ of the total for the omnivores, the other portion is obviously ⅔, enough for the vegetarians at the table. Flake the salmon in large chunks and toss into the omnivore portion.