Lentils and chickpeas are a match made in heaven, at least in my book. I was picturing this lentil and chickpea salad with a spicy dressing and pickled onions–a riff on a recipe I'd made last fall for Christopher's birthday–and was inspired by the tahini dressing I found in this version from Smitten Kitchen. I love this served beside a butter lettuce salad tossed with Go-To Vinaigrette and topped with crumbled goat cheese!
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, divided
1 cup chopped red onion
1 cup dried French (green) lentils
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons coriander seeds (or 1-1/2 teaspoons ground)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (or 3/4 teaspoon ground)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon tahini
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1-2 teaspoons smoked chile powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (optional)
1 cup chopped parsley
In a medium mixing bowl, dissolve the brown sugar in the hot water. Stir in 1/2 cup of vinegar and add red onion. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, while lentils cook.
Place lentils in a medium saucepan with crushed garlic and bay leaves, and cover with 2 inches of cold water (or for an added boost of flavor, a combination of water and chicken or vegetable broth). Bring to a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, until lentils are tender to the bite yet still hold their shape. Strain, remove bay leaves and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
While lentils are cooking, toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes, shaking frequently, until fragrant. Grind in a spice or coffee grinder and transfer to a blender. Add remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, grated garlic and chile powder to the blender and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drain the onions and toss with chickpeas, rosemary and lentils. Drizzle with the dressing and toss well to coat. Toss again with parsley.