Last summer, I was looking for recipes that would work well served cold–eating hot dishes on hot days just isn’t very satisfying. I had also just received a bag of green lentils from my SPUD! subscription–they had caught my eye because of their oh-so-affordable attributes. This recipe is easy to do on a budget, as lentils are cheap and the veggies required are delicious in-season but also store well if you’re making this in the winter months for packed lunches at work.
Lentils are a cheap dietary staple, packed full of health essentials like iron, folate, magnesium, thiamine, dietary fibre, and have a low GI (Glycemic Index) rating, meaning that they help to stabilize your blood sugar levels while providing steady amounts of energy. Because this recipe contains cheese, you’re getting some full protein action, too–omit the cheese for a vegan option, and pair instead with your favourite grain (rice, barley, cous cous, corn), or your favourite nuts.
Healthy Lentil Salad
Makes: One big bowl of salad
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
- 2 cups dry green or brown lentils
- 2 carrots, chopped into coins
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 sweet red pepper, chopped
- 1 large leek (or 4 green onions)
- 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley or other herb
- 1/4 cup olive or grapeseed oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp each dried oregano and salt
- cracked pepper to taste
Rinse dried lentils under tap, then immerse in 4.5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add chopped carrots and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure the lentils don’t go too mushy. Remove from heat, drain water and rinse briefly under a cold tap. Pour lentils and carrot into a large mixing bowl, add chopped celery, pepper, and fresh herbs. Sprinkle the grated cheese and mix in thoroughly.
Slice the leek into quarter- or half-inch pieces and rinse well. In pot, pour boiling water over the chopped leek, and boil for an extra 2 minutes. This blanches the leek, making it more tender and flavourful in your salad–careful not to overcook! You want it just a bit crunchy still. Drain, and add cooked leek to the lentil mixture.
Meanwhile, mix the oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, lemon juice, and spice together until well combined. Pour over the salad and toss well. Refrigerate until salad is cold and flavours have developed, about 2 hours.
Ta-da! Now you have a great side dish or lunchbox main. Enjoy!