Even though I love them, I will admit that lentils can be unromantic and drab. Not so the small, dark, and elegant French lentils (also known as Puy lentils) or the equally petite and glossy black Beluga lentils. These retain their shape and their chic dark color when cooked and are excellent in salads. The visual contrast with red pepper and bright green parsley is lovely as well, but what I like best about this salad is how simple it is to make and how good it tastes.
LITTLE BLACK LENTILS
3/4 cup French lentils or tiny black "Beluga" lentils
1/2 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, chopped fine or grated
1 small red pepper, diced
a handful of frozen corn
a couple of glugs of good olive oil
a splash or two of sherry vinegar
a fat pinch of salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
some chopped parsley
Cook the lentils in at least three cups of salted water until cooked but not mushy. Drain and rinse briefly with cold water. In a large bowl combine the lentils and vegetables. Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and parsley. Mix gently but so that everything is nicely coated. The corn will thaw quickly, chilling the salad a bit in the process. This would be good with feta or goat cheese, but it's also excellent just as it is.