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Quinoa & Lentil Salad

November 24, 2015

lentil salad

Not quite a tabbouleh, I wanted this salad to be heavily ‘herby’ but less ‘grassy’ than the traditional style. (I also had a huge bunch of coriander to use up which worked really well.) I think you could easily substitute the coriander with fresh dill or parsley if you are coriander adverse.

I don’t use lentils very often. Apart from them being a legume, my initial experience with them  in my youth, sort of turned me off them:

As a teenager, I was invited to a friend’s house to have dinner with her very hippy family (who I was enamoured by), who served a huge feast of stewed lentils for dinner. This was the first time that I had tried lentils and it was also the first time I had ever tried brown rice. As you can probably gather, I came from a very white rice family!!

The lentils were stewed with a few spices and a bit of onion, or should I say, partially stewed with a few spices and a bit of onion, and I was served an enormous mound atop an equally enormous pile of brown rice. Being brought up to finish everything on my plate, I struggled with the less-than-al-dente lentils and was the last to finish my meal by too many minutes! And they sat in my stomach like gravel…..for a week…!

Lentils are said to be the world’s oldest cultivated legume, with evidence of them showing they were eaten 9,500 to 13,000 years ago.  Colours range from slate green, brown, and black to reddish-orange, coral, and gold, with all varieties having their own unique flavour and texture but a similar nutritional profile.

They are a rich source of dietary fibre and protein and contain high levels of folate,  iron and zinc. I didn’t realise that they have the second-highest ratio of protein per calorie of any legume (after soy beans) and are what a lot of ‘pea protein’ supplements are made of. So I guess I eat more lentils than I thought!

They contain high amounts of resistant starch, which is great for the gut but….. they also contain anti-nutrient factors such as trypsin inhibitors and have a relatively high phytate content. Trypsin is an enzyme involved in digestion, and phytates reduce the bioavailability of dietary minerals although the phytates can be reduced by soaking the lentils in water overnight.

Many peas and split peas used in Indian dishes are actually lentils!

In this recipe I have used the small French green lentils, known as lentilles du Puy. They take less time to cook and retain their shape better than ordinary lentils. And they have a slightly nutty taste; and are less earthy than regular lentils. Thanks to their firmer texture, French lentils are perfect for salads and cook up beautifully in no time. Feel free to use all lentils for this salad – my previous experience won’t allow me to use only lentils here. I think the quinoa gives a nice contrast in the texture.

80g du puy lentils, soaked in fresh water overnight

100g red quinoa, soaked in hot water overnight, then rinsed VERY well

1 small cauliflower, chopped

60g baby kale

1 bunch fresh coriander

90g olive oil

30g white wine vinegar

juice of 1 lemon

1 tab honey (or brown rice syrup)

1 teas salt

3 tabs toasted pepitas

3 tabs currants

Place drained lentils & quinoa into the simmering basket and pour in 1200g of water. Cook for 20 – 25 mins at 100ºC on SP 3. Set aside to drain.

Prepare the cauliflower by chopping on SP 4 until resembling rice size pieces. Add 100g water and cook at 100ºC for 7 minutes. Drain and tip into a large mixing bowl  – add the lentils & quinoa after they have drained.

In the TM add the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, olive oil & salt and blend on SP 7 for 10 seconds. Pour over the cauliflower and mix through.

Without cleaning the TM bowl, add the coriander and kale and chop roughly for a second and add to the cauliflower with the currants. Taste for seasoning.

Garnish with the toasted pepitas just before serving. This might just make a nice salad to go with the Christmas turkey!

 

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