Mediterranean Lentil Salad

When I got this recipe in my inbox last week I decided immediately that I had to try it.  Packed with vitamins K and C, sweetened by roasted red peppers and balsamic vinegar, popping! with fresh garlic and basil, and bittered by arugula, this dish has it all.

lentils about to marinate

I decided to let this salad be the star of our dinner so I served it with simple grilled pork chops.  What a great choice.  The pork was perfectly mild in comparison, and only spiced with a bit of salt and pepper and an herb concoction ( milk thistle, Italian herbs, garlic, pepper, cayenne & hot peppers) from a local herbalist.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup dried green lentils

1 cup water

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

3 oz roasted red peppers, chopped

2 TBS finely minced onion

2 medium cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

3 TBS balsamic vinegar

1 TBS fresh lemon juice

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, divided

salt and black pepper to taste

1 bunch arugula

baby aruluga

Directions:

  • Wash lentils, remove any foreign matter, and drain.  This step is serious business as there can be chunks of rock in with them and you can crack a tooth
  • Combine lentils, water and broth in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and cook at low temperature for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are cooked but still firm
  • Mince onion and press garlic and set aside
  • Once the lentils are cooked, drain the excess water, and lightly rinse under cold water. Drain again
  • Place the lentils in a bowl and add peppers, onion, garlic, basil, vinegar, and 1 TBS olive oil
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Marinate for at least 1 hour before serving.  This does even better with an overnight in the fridge if you have that kind of time
  • Toss the arugula with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of a lemon, salt and pepper. Serve on a plate topped with the lentils

mediterranean lentil salad with grilled pork chop

J

Recipe adapted from World’s Healthiest Foods

A simple spinach salad

I was in a small grocery store in town the other day looking for a cucumber and they had none.  What I spied in its stead was a package of organic blueberries.  I couldn’t say no.  It’s the beginning of March and I haven’t had a blueberry that wasn’t frozen in months.  Besides eating them a few at a time straight from the carton, we had them in salads as a course at dinner, then I had them again in my breakfast cereal.  I was going to throw them into a smoothie but quickly realized that would be a waste of a fresh berry when smoothies are just as good with frozen.

What is missing from this pic is the balsamic vinaigrette that we topped the salad with, and the goat cheese that I wish I had added.  Simple.  Colorful.  Bursting with flavor & nutrients.

J

Quinoa with Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms

Whole Foods had quite a few gems for me this past week.  This is another of their winning recipes both for flavor and for the healthy prep.  Of course I changed it up a bit to suit my needs.  Then I served it along-side a very rich cut of meat.  Hey, you’ve got to cut your fat and calorie corners where you can right?

Ingredients

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 small pear, peeled and cored

1 garlic clove

2 pounds portobello mushrooms, stemmed

1 cup quinoa

3 cups spinach, chopped

4 chives, chopped

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Put vinegar, pear and garlic in a blender with 1/3 cup water and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Cut mushrooms into chunks and combine in a large mixing bowl with 1/4 cup of the pear balsamic dressing. Spread mushrooms in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast mushrooms until tender, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.   *I can honestly say that when I pulled the mushrooms from their roasting in the oven they looked and smelled burnt.  In fact, Neil asked whether or not I was still going to use them in dinner.  I scraped them off of the baking sheet and plopped them into the salad and they were very good.  I do believe that Neil was surprised at the beautiful flavor and texture that came from these beastly looking little things (as was I).
  • While mushrooms roast, prepare quinoa. In a medium pot, bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil. Stir in quinoa, cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside, covered, 10 minutes more. Uncover and fluff.
  • Combine mushrooms, quinoa, spinach, chives, salt, pepper and remaining pear balsamic dressing in a large, wide serving bowl. Stir to mix well.

This salad is packed with fantastic flavor, and does well left-over for lunch the next day, cold.

For dinner I had cooked up a rack of lamb in honey and balsamic vinegar, sage, and garlic:

And roasted some asparagus:

and had a wonderful dinner which balanced well the fatty lamb with the lean veg and salad.

J