I'll preface this post by saying that this is the best salad I've made in a long time. (Maybe ever.) It's an amalgamation of two different recipes from my cooking spirit guide, Heidi Swanson. I'd been putting off buying a mortar and pestle, as I thought it was an unnecessary kitchen tool, but now that I've seen the magic it's capable of making (read: this dressing), I realize it was a smart purchase. If you don't have one, a food processor will work just fine.
Coconut Milk Dressing (Adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
1 small clove garlic, peeled
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 small handful fresh basil leaves
2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk (from the can, not the carton)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
In a mortar and pestle, smash garlic, chile flakes and salt into a paste. Add oil, scallions and basil and continue to smash. Transfer the mixture to a mason jar and whisk in coconut milk and lemon juice. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice as needed. Store dressing in refrigerator for up to one week.
Lentil-Avocado Salad (Adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
1/2 cup dried black lentils
2 cups water
Red leaf lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 ripe avocado, quartered
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
Rinse and pick over lentils. In a large pot, combine lentils and water and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, with the lid cracked open a bit. After they are fully cooked, strain out any remaining water.
In a salad bowl, start with a base layer of lettuce. Next, add cooked lentils and thinly sliced avocado quarters. Top it off with the chopped hazelnuts and the coconut milk dressing.