Brown lentils.
To be brutally honest, there isn’t a lot that’s sexy in those two words.
Yet, to be fair, that’s not what a lentil is supposed to be. They’re sturdy and strong. They’re what you keep in the back of the cupboard in the event of nuclear winter or biblical weather.
In this kitchen they’re most likely to be simmered with a ham hock into a soup best  consumed with a fork.
Yet, continuing the spirit of getting enthusiastic (nay, evangelical even) about pulses, there has to be a way to sass these up. Adding  some lipstick to a pig  if you will.
Drained out of a can, lentils can resemble shy pellets which belong to a small domesticated animal.  They have a mealy, burlap texture and faint nuttiness. They need some colour, dressing and zip to make them come alive.
They’re like an overtired, bored office worker.  They need a holiday to Spain. And possibly a lie in and the energy that comes from a big proper breakfast.
This warm lentil salad does all of that and more. All of the heroes from the breakfast table are there; bacon (here in lardons nuggets of streaky smoked stuff ), mushrooms and softened onions. Then there’s the Spanish lilt from the parsley slurry and  the sly presence of sliced piquillo peppers (though any marinated red peppers would do).
This is a salad that’s  nice on its own, from a bowl with a glass of pink wine within reach. It’s lovely as a side dish for barbecued chicken or fish, whether salmon fillets or swordfish steaks. And it’s great with a five minute egg broken over the top, its yolk bleeding through the centre like a lazy sunset.
If that’s not sexy, then I don’t know what is.
This lentil salad even works as a breakfast for those devoted folks who are doing the ‘Four hour body’ and need something to rotate in with their morning egg white omelettes and protein shakes.
Suffice to say, it’s  a dish that’s in high rotation in this house at the moment. Sometimes I leave out the bacon and double the mushrooms. Sometimes I just toss through the parsley, rather than blitzing it with the olive oil. What is absolutely non negotiable is the seasoning with salt and pepper and  a little splash of red wine vinegar.  Even the sassiest of salads can need something to help it pucker up a little more.
Brown lentils with parsley, pig, mushrooms and peppers
Serves 2 (though doubles easily)
Excellent on its own or  with a runny egg over the top, with grilled chicken pieces or fish.
Equipment
1 fry pan. 1 small blender
Shopping/foraging

4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 handfuls of flat leaf parsley, rinsed and picked off the stems
90 grams of lardons/smoked bacon
1 red onion, cut into thin half moons
300 grams of button mushrooms, halved
1 x 400 gram tin of brown lentils, drained and rinsed (organic will taste best)
1/2 cup of marinated red peppers, sliced thinly
Splash of good quality red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Optional: soft boiled or fried egg/ pan seared salmon

Method

1. To make the dressing add the clean and picked parsley leaves into a small blender with a pinch of salt.

2. Pour in the olive oil and blitz until it is a lurid green slurry.

3. Place the pan over a medium heat and add the lardons/bacon and fry until the fat has begun to render. Add the half moons of red onion and cook for 10 minutes until the onions are softened.

4. Place the onions and bacon in the serving bowl and fry the mushrooms in the fat that is left in the pan. If the pan is a little dry, add a tablespoon of olive oil. Fry until the mushrooms are brown.

5. Combine the rinsed lentils with the onions, lardons and mushrooms. Add the sliced marinated peppers and stir to meld.

6. Season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of good quality red wine vinegar (if it is cheap, add a pinch of sugar so it’s not too acrid).  Pour over the parsley dressing and stir to combine.

7.  Serve while still warm.