Tiny beluga lentils really do look like caviar pearls, and this brightly flavored salad is a fine way to feature them. For textural contrast and flavor enhancement, I’ve included the crunch of marinated celery root matchsticks, and richness of kale pesto in the mix, topped off with the pinky orange sweetness of cara cara orange. You can include parmesan in the pesto, or, for a dairy-free rendition, just leave the cheese out. Note: You’ll want to serve the salad topped with some of the orange, celery root, and parsley, because if mixed before service, the deep hue of the lentils will overwhelm the bright colors.
FOR THE MARINATED CELERY ROOT:
• 1 organic celery root, peeled and sliced into very thin matchsticks, divided (After marinating, you will mix 1/2 of the matchsticks with marinade into the lentils + top the salad with the remaining matchsticks)
• 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
• 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
• 2 Tbsp water
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1/8 tsp pepper
• 2 tsp sugar (optional)
FOR THE KALE PESTO:
• 1 very fresh bunch organic Tuscan kale, stems and strings discarded, leaves chopped to make 4 1/2 cups
• 1/2 cup pine nuts
• 2 cloves garlic, minced to make 2 tsp.
• 1/2 tsp kosher salt
• 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup finely and freshly grated
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (Note: Do not use pre-grated powder-like parmesan)
FOR THE LENTIL SALAD:
• 1 1/2 cups black beluga lentils, picked over and rinsed
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/2 of the marinated celery root from the recipe above, plus marinade
• 4 cara cara oranges, divided.
• 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced
Whisk together mustard, vinegar, water, salt, pepper, and sugar. Pour over celery root matchsticks and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, combine chopped kale leaves, pine nuts, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Pulse to finely chop, scraping down sides of processor bowl as necessary. Continue to pulse, while adding olive oil in a slow stream. Remove pesto to a bowl and stir in finely grated Parmesan, if using. In a heavy-bottomed stock pot, heat 3 cups water with 1 tsp salt to boiling. Add lentils, reduce heat slightly and cook for 20 minutes until lentils al dente; not too soft. Pour lentils into colander to drain any remaining water.
Place lentils in a mixing bowl. Stir in pesto. Slice off and discard peels from three of the oranges. Slice orange flesh from these three oranges into small wedges. Juice the fourth orange. Stir half of the orange wedges and all of the orange juice from the fourth orange into the lentils. Add ó of the marinated celery root matchsticks, and all of the marinate. Stir to incorporate. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Spoon lentil salad into serving bowl. Top with remaining celery root matchsticks, remaining orange segments and minced parsley. Serve.