16-10-25_onion-pie-lentil-saladI assembled a lovely lentil salad that included a bottle of brown ale, dried apricots and blueberries, and toasted hazelnuts. A little sweet, a little crunchy, all good.

Brown Ale Lentil Salad with Hazelnuts and Dried Fruits
Inspired by Fine Cooking, October/November 2016
Serves 4 as a side dish

1/4 cup plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, minced (about 1/3 cup)
Kosher salt
1 cup dried French lentils (lentils du Puy)
12 oz. bottle brown ale
1/3 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots and blueberries
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and chopped

Heat 2 tsp. of the olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and 1/4 tsp. salt, and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lentils, 1 cup of the beer, and 1 cup water. Boil over high heat, stirring once or twice, until the beer foam has settled, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer uncovered until the lentils are tender, 40 to 55 minutes, adding more water as needed to keep them covered. Drain, reserving the liquid, and transfer the lentils to a serving bowl.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup beer with the apricots and blueberries, and let sit until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain, and discard the beer.

In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil with the vinegar, mustard, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Gently stir in the warm lentils. Let sit 10 minutes. Stir in the dried fruits, parsley, and nuts. Season to taste with more salt or vinegar before serving.

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Lentils cook themselves (and that’s why I adore them). These simmered for 45 minutes or so. I added water as needed. I cooked with a bottle of Smuttynose Old Brown Dog American brown ale. The shallot, Dijon mustard, and parsley were good flavors, here. And the crunchy hazelnuts were a treat.

I also made this crazy/easy “Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor’s Onion Pie” highlighted from a 1970 cookbook in the New York Times. I saw the short list of ingredients and the opportunity to use a frozen pie crust (which I partially blind-baked). Sauté onions until they are translucent, in a covered pan. Simple, right? The eggs and cream add a delightful richness. This pie -- sweet and rich and good -- disappeared quickly.

French lentils (1 cup) = .75¢
Brown Ale (12 oz.) = $1.46
Onions (3 large) = $2.86

PREP TIMES: lentils need an hour to prep and cook, but will sit and wait for you to eat; blind-bake a pie crust in 15 minutes, sauté onions, bake pie in 30 minutes
TASTES: shallot, Dijon mustard, parsley, and hazelnuts work well with lentils; sweet and creamy onions

Next time, I will indulge in the “Persian Split Pea and Rice Soup with Lamb Meatballs,” from the November 2016 issue of Food & Wine. Come back to my site next week, to see how this goes.