Beluga black lentils become a delectable canvas for colorful heirloom tomatoes enrobed in creamy burrata and a spicy basil chimichuri. It looks almost too beautiful to eat but each bite reveals classic Italian flavors that will have you licking the plate clean. Make sure to serve this with a crusty bread to mop up all of the scrumptious little lentils doused in creamy, spicy goodness.
We love all lentils, from the famous French green to yellow and red, but black lentils are in a legume of their own. These diminutive pulses are one of the earliest cultivated crops and in his book Beans: A History, Ken Albala believes that this changed the course of human history. They most likely made their way from a wild seed foraged by hunter gatherers to a cultivated food crop over 10,000 years ago in the area historians call the Fertile Crescent (now modern day Turkey, Iraq and Syria). Black lentils are called Beluga Lentils because of their shiny black skin and small size, resembling that of caviar. Fun fact: unlike green lentils, black lentils possess anthocyanins – the same powerful antioxidant found in dark berries like blueberries and blackberries. We featured these beauties in the October Heirloom Bean and Grain Club. If you aren't in the club yet, grab a spot on the waiting list!
Unlike buffalo mozzarella, burrata is a creamy masterpiece, with a delicate mozzarella shell that encases a rich blend of mozzarella curd and cream. Its unique texture and luscious, indulgent flavor set it apart, making it a must-try for any cheese lover. You can find burrata in well-stocked cheese shops, specialty grocery stores, or even some local farmers' markets. Its decadent, creamy interior makes it a perfect choice for enhancing the flavors of various dishes, and in this recipe, it plays the foil to our spicy basil chimichuri, mellowing the heat and enhancing the flavor of Calabrian chilis.
Rinse the lentils thoroughly. Add lentils, water, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and bayleaf in a pot and bring to boil then simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentis are just al dente. Remove the bay leaf and set aside to cool. (you can put them in the refrigerator if you're in a hurry)
In a blender pulse the basil leaves, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, chili flakes, garlic, a dash of red wine vinegar and olive oil until the mixture is smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning to your desired heat. Remeber that the burrata will take the heat of of the peppers so go a bit spicer than you would think.
Once the lentils are cooled, drizzle them with balsamic vinegar and hot vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper and combine with a spatula. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Assemble the salad with lentils and burrata. Cut an X in the top of the burrata and place heirloom tomato slices around. Drizzle generously with the chimichuri and season with a flake finishing salt like Pacific Flake and more freshly ground pepper.
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