It's been a wonderful spring. I know that I keep remarking on how pretty spring is, but it really, really is. Take peonies for example. They arrive every year, stay for about a week, and give us absolute beauty. The smell is mesmerizing, to me. We have a spot on our property where the original homestead log cabin once stood. The cabin has been relocated, but the plants, trees, and shrubs that were planted by the generations who lived there remain. There are ear trees, apple trees, lilace, lilies, and peonies. We have to hike in to cut them. By the time we're home, the ants have crawled out and are running up our arms. Once in a vase, there are days of that the great smell. Those are mine in the photo. I love the creamy white, with the tips of pink. Did you take peonies or lilacs to school for your teacher? Maybe Lily of the Valley? They were so pretty when we left home with the wet paper towel around the stems, but by the time recess rolled around, they were droopy and looking sort of pitiful. It always meant the school year was almost over, and summer was on its way.
This week's Around My French Table/French Fridays with Dorie recipe is Lentil Tuna Salad with Preserved Lemon. Very simple, light, and delicious. I knew I may have a sales pitch ahead of me. Gary is no fan of lentils. He doesn't know why, just has no particular love for them. Plus, he's a non-olive guy. I knew if it was tapenade, we'd be ok. Just no whole olives rolling around.
The recipe calls for preserved lemons which are very popular in Moroccan foods. Lemon are packed in the jar with lemon juice and salt for about 4 weeks. The skin softens and they can be sliced, diced and put in recipes. I didn't have 4 weeks for preserve lemons, though this would be a good time to start. I found a great "quick" preserved lemon recipe my Mark Bittman. It took three hours intead of weeks. I don't think they were quite as tender as the long version, but they worked well.
First, the lemons are chopped then combined with salt and sugar, then placed in the jar. Shake the jar every 10-15 minutes, and in the three hours, the lemons break down and have a preserved lemon quality.
The dressing is a basic red wine vinegar vinaigrette with grainy mustard and black olive tapenade. What a great combination! I think this would be great to drizzle over Salade Nicoise!
I added the dressing to the lentils while they were warm, and they absorbed much of the liquid. The lemons, scallion and tuna really worked well together. I added a little just a squeeze of lemon juice to the top with the salt and pepper. It was a nice dinner, and no complaints about the lentils.
This recipe would be perfect for a picnic lunch on a warm summer day. Enjoy! Hope you can find some pretty peonies!