Recipe of the Month

April 2014: Crazy Good Lentil Salad

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With spring finally bringing in warmer temperatures, our body is ready to shift towards lighter foods. This lentil salad is the perfect  transition as it will keep you full and energized with out weighing you down. Lentils are part of the legume family and contain a cornucopia of beneficial nutrients while being low in calories. One cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein. They are also a good source of folate, iron, magnesium and zinc. This recipe is very simple and quick to prepare, making it a great weekday meal that will keep you full and energized for hours. This salad is great alone, served in a tortilla, or pita bread.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (1 lb.) French Green lentils (could use Trader Joe’s Ready to Eat Lentils)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 cup dried currants (you could also use raisins or dried cranberry’s)
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper (or ½ of each)
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • Handful cilantro, chopped (could use basil or flat leaf parsley)
  • ½ cup goat cheese or Feta cheese (optional)

Vinaigrette:  (Don’t let the number of spices discourage you, as it is easy & delish)

  • 1/3 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar (Braggs)
  • 1 Tbsp. organic maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 to ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves or allspice
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

*Optional add-ins:
 Arugula, Goat or Feta Cheese, Sprouts


Directions:

  1. Rinse lentils well, drain. Place in a pot and cover with a 3-4 inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Check lentils to see if they’re done after 15 minutes, but they should take about 20 minutes in total. You will know they are cooked if they still retain a slight tooth – al dente! Overcooking the lentils is the death of this dish…so be careful!
  2. While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.
  3. Finely dice red onion – the salad is best if all the ingredients are about the same size. If using raisins, chop them roughly to make them a bit smaller, and do the same with the bell pepper.
  4. When the lentils are cooked, remove from heat, drain and place under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled slightly, but still a little warm, place lentils in a large serving bowl and toss with dressing. Add onion, peppers, currants, carrots and walnuts. If using other add-ins such as herbs, greens, or cheese, wait until just before serving. Otherwise, this salad can hang out in the fridge for a couple days.
  5. Eat alone, as a side dish, or serve on a tortilla with a little hummus. Yum!