After arriving home after my morning trip to the farmers' market on Saturday, loaded with goodies and full of excitement, my grandmother laughed at me.
She was seated at the dining room table with her morning cup of black coffee and Sweet n' Low, probably still in her pajamas, in awe that I had woken up at 6 am to go anywhere. See, my family sort of thinks I like to go to bed and sleep in late. Who, me?
But there she was, watching me unpack our Trader Joe's and Wegman's cloth bags, the ones my dad helped me lug around the crowded market, loaded with spaghetti squash, cheeses, potatoes, sweet peppers, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and portobello mushrooms.
And there was one more treat in the bag: a large bunch of treviso from Monarch Farms. I had no idea what the heck this vegetable was, but I'm a sucker for Monarch Farms. They grow their food ecologically and their produce always looks amazing. They're a very small family-run farm who just seems plain funky and neat to me. So every week, I try to pick something up there, and this week the treviso looked interesting. I had to ask what it was, but by the time I got home had already forgotten. The guy had told me it was related to radicchio, so I looked it up on handy Google, whom I ask all of my questions.
But before doing so, I removed the treviso from it's bag, brought it over to my grandma, and earnestly exclaimed how beautiful it was. That's when she laughed at me, and told me not many 23 year-olds think that vegetables are beautiful. Aren't they, though? They are perfection. And the more imperfect, the more perfect. If that makes any sense. Vegetables are beautiful.
So what exactly is treviso? It is indeed a relative of radicchio. Treviso is a bitter leafy green and usually has reddish leaves according to my research, but mine had green and red leaves. Warning: do NOT eat the white part. Any of it. If you think the leaves are bitter, stay far away from the white part which is even more so.
Warm lentil salad with treviso, feta, and lemon vinaigrette
1 TBSP olive oil
1 large bunch of treviso
3 cups of water
1 cup lentils (green or brown, organic if possible)
2 oz feta, crumbled
½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped*
Handful of pumpkin seeds (I used the brand Living Intentions sprouted salted pumpkin seeds)
Handful of cranberries, to serve
Quinoa, to serve
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice from one lemon
4 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
To make the salad, heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Wash the treviso and remove the white stems, including the ribs in between the leaves. Chop the leaves coarsely and add to the hot oil. Sauté a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until wilted and tender.
In a medium saucepan, bring the 3 cups of water to a boil, then add the lentils and a dash of salt. Lower heat and simmer about 30-35 minutes or according to package instructions, until tender but not mushy. Drain and rinse briefly under cold water to stop cooking. Place in a serving bowl and add the feta, toasted walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
Make the vinaigrette: Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic to a paste. Add the fresh lemon juice, then gradually whisk in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Taste the dressing and adjust ingredients as necessary.
To serve, drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and mix well. Add the cranberries and mix them in. Serve over a bed of quinoa or other grain.
*To toast the walnuts, place them on a baking sheet and toast in preheated 350F oven for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant and darker in color. Cool and then chop coarsely.
Note: If you can't find treviso, you can replace it with spinach, kale, radicchio, or another dark, leafy green.