Two-Color Spicy Lentil Salad with Cucumber and Pickled Radish

Freebie alert: I'm giving away a copy of the cookbook mentioned here, The Enlightened Kitchen, <a href=""http://www.justhungry.com/book-review-enlightened-kitchen-shojin-ryori-home-cooking">over on Just Hungry. Deadline is Sunday, June the 7th!

<img src="http://justbento.com/files/bento/images/lentil-2color-salad500.jpg" width="500" height="361" alt="lentil-2color-salad500.jpg" " />

Vegetarian Bento May is over, but I still have some bento-friendly vegan recipes to post! This one was inspired by two sources: Sarah's Curried Lentil Risotto, and a recipe for a lentil and mushroom salad in The Enlightened Kitchen, a great shojin ryori cookbook that I've just reviewed over on Just Hungry. The latter recipe uses both green and red lentils to come up with a bi-color effect that is very pretty, and that's what I wanted to emulate.

The first time I tried making this, I used hard, flinty green Puy lentils, and ran into a problem: they take about twice as long to cook as the red lentils, which are hulled. By the time the Puy lentils were cooked, the red lentils had disintegrated. On my second attempt, I just adjusted the cooking times, putting the Puy lentils in the boiling water first, then adding the red lentils later. That came out quite well. The Puy lentils remain al dente and firm, while the red lentils are quite soft and starchy.

The lentil salad recipe in the Enlightened Kitchen book called for curry powder, which is a standard spice in Japanese kitchens, but I used a mixture of Indian spices instead, which I think makes for more vibrant and exciting flavors. The last of my pickled radishes fit very well too.