Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Grilled Broccolini, Lemon and Lentil Salad With Crunchy Breadcrumbs

Welcome to Put on a Spread, a recipe series that takes you inside the kitchens – and dining rooms – of some of our favourite home cooks. For this instalment, cookbook author and food writer Julia Busuttil Nishimura shares a recipe that will actually make you excited to eat salad.

When you want to serve a salad for your guests, it's often thought of as an add-on; a healthy must-have, a way to freshen your palate, and sometimes even a bore. But not all salads are created equal, as Julia Busuttil Nishimura's grilled broccolini, lemon, and lentil salad will have you know. 

This salad is worthy of being a main event in it's own right. It really has it all – creaminess, crunch, freshness and a good zing from the lemon. With a generous dose of buffalo mozzarella to top it all off, it isn't your average garden salad. 

The best thing about this recipe is that it can be varied, depending on what you have on hand. You can use different herbs like coriander or basil, ricotta or burrata instead of mozzarella and chickpeas instead of lentils. If you’re short on time, canned legumes are a more than fine substitute as well.

Go on, make this recipe your own, and you'll be craving salad for dinner most nights from here on. 

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 200g French green lentils
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 carrot
  • Fresh bay leaf
  • 2 bunches broccolini, trimmed
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • Large handful each of mint leaves, parsley leaves and rocket
  • 400g buffalo mozzarella, torn into large pieces
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Sea salt and black pepper 

For the crunchy breadcrumbs:

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • Sea salt

Method

Place the lentils in a large pot with the onion, carrot and bay leaf. If you have some parsley stalks, they can go in too. Cover with plenty of cold water and bring to a simmer. Cook for around 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and allow to cool. The vegetables can be removed and eaten or discarded.

Meanwhile, make the breadcrumbs by warming the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook for 6-7 minutes, or until golden, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t burn. Transfer to a small bowl and season with sea salt.

Place the broccolini in a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt, tossing to coat . Heat a pan or grill plate over a high heat and grill the broccolini until bright green and charred in places.

In a large serving dish or bowl, place the lentils, charred broccolini and arrange the remaining ingredients in and amongst the lentils.

Whisk the dressing ingredients and season to taste. Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Scatter over the crunchy breadcrumbs and serve.

Shop Julia's look with our Oatmeal tablecloth, White placemats, and Oatmeal napkins.

For more from Julia, follow her at @juliaostro.

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