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Saira

Warm Lentil Salad

This week, I looked at how many different ways I could use lentils. Of course, I put them to use in several stews and soups. I soaked them until the little beads softened and then added them to a potato croquette for a little bite (recipe to follow in the coming weeks). Finally, I ended my kitchen-periment at a lentil salad.

Firstly, my fascination with lentils is that I am actively incorporating more plant-based proteins in to my diet. Secondly, it is high in soluble fiber and protects the heart. Thirdly, they are great binders for vegetarian meals, such as veggie loaves and burgers. Lastly, they are cheap and store well in a dark and dry place (covering my bases in the next home stranding snow storm). For today’s recipe, I used the yellow lentils that I already had in my pantry from the post I did on the lentil soup.

The lentil salad was quick and simple. The lentils I chose did not require soaking overnight and only needing to be brought to a boil and then strained. I then tossed them gently with my favorite salad ingredients and brought them together in a warm and spiced yoghurt dressing. It left my tongue humming. Why use a warm dressing might you ask? Warm dressings make ingredients open up. It fully coaxes the flavors of everything party to the dish and there is something far more appealing about a salad without ‘chill’ in the cooler months, and its certainly time to trade in edgy textures for textures more gentle and forgiving.

The salad will provide a nice alternative to your habitual salad choices. The yellow lentils are light and mild with an earthy flavor and are perfectly coated with a warm and spicy lemon yoghurt dressing to round out all flavors. As for the traditional salad components, this is the perfect time to pull all all the lone rangers from the refrigerator. Here is your chance to pull of the foil veils and put those half cut tomatoes, cukes, onions and boiled potatoes to use.

Tossing the lentil salad and dressing

Tossing the lentil salad and dressing

Lentil Salad

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • 1 cup dried yellow lentils
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ cup of small-diced cucumber
  • ¼ cup of diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of diced boiled potatoes
  • ¼ cup of steamed fava beans
  • ¼ cup of lightly steamed carrots
  • Handful of walnuts
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Handful of any lettuce, shredded
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ tsp. salt

For the Dressing

  • 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 large dried red chili
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • ½ cup of plain low fat yoghurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste

Method

Lentils
1) Wash and drain the lentils 3 times. Place in saucepan filled with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook just before they get tender (careful here or they may get mushy)
2) Shock with cold water, drain well, set aside to stop them from cooking further
3) Add remaining salad ingredients and toss gently to avoid breaking the lentils

Dressing
1) Heat the oil in a frying pan
2) Add the mustard seeds and dry chili. When the seeds start popping, add ginger and garlic and sauté for 1 minute (to lose raw flavor)
3) Add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Add the yoghurt to heat through, season with salt and pepper
4) Give it a final whisk. Pour over the salad and toss well. Allow to stand for 5 minutes

Saira Malhotra, is of British –Indian descent and is a chef, food writer and cooking instructor based in New York City. Raised in Hounslow, U.K, or rather ‘Little India’, where the air is aromatic with roasted spices, little did Saira know these moments would follow her from being a student in France and Italy to residing in NYC with her husband and kids and parlay themselves unexpectedly in to a culinary career. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City. Come visit her at her food blog: Passport Pantry, where she shares approachable and international recipes.

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