You've probably noticed a dearth of posts on this blog for a few days. I can only apologize for this. Its been a mad, mad March so far, and I've actually been working a lot. Add to this a visit from a dear friend from England and my in-laws, and its meant that I didn't have a ton of time to do a blog post.
However, I hadn't forgotten that I had to make a salad recipe for the Canadian Lentil's Recipe Revelations challenge. I mentioned this to my in-laws when we had a rare moment to sit down and visit. And to my surprise, my father-in-law mentioned that his cousin actually grows lentils on his farm in Saskatchewan. How is that for a co-incidence?
As this is going to be my last recipe for the challenge itself, I thought I might write a few things about Canadian lentils themselves, and perhaps a bit of background would be useful as well. As you already know, my daughter and husband don't eat meat. This means that they can be limited in their protein intake, and I have to be constantly aware of what I am feeding them, and if it has a good balance of protein in it. Lentils, I have found, are an amazing source of protein and also of fibre, and are so good for you too. Not to mention that they taste pretty darn good as well.
Lentils are versatile. You can throw them in a stew, or a curry, or make a dal. They are beautiful vehicles for spices, and a gorgeous accompaniment for meats and fish. Just yesterday, Kathryn and I taught a class where we paired beautiful nutty brown puy lentils with a pan fried salmon steak, and served it with green beans and a salsa verde. Simple, delicate, delicious and so healthy and good for you.
So in between all these busy days, I found time to sit down and create a new recipe for this lentil salad as my entry to the Salads category of Recipe Revelations. My process of developing the recipe was quite simple. First off, I had already used black lentils in my Dal Bukhara, red in my Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup and cleaned black (white) lentils in my Dahi Vada. So I was left with green or brown lentils to work with. Not that this is a hardship, mind, because I love green lentils and use them in recipes all the time. Armed with my trusty spice cupboard, I set to work.
I wanted to keep the Indian twist that I have in all my lentil recipes for this challenge. So I played around with a combination of spices first. The first time I tried it, I made it with a tarka (or tempering) It was great, but it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. So then next time, I tried it with a combination of peppers and carrots, with a lightly spiced oil dressing. It worked much better, except that I had cooked my vegetables and they turned a bit mushy.
I struck lucky the third time I tried out this recipe. I used the spiced oil, and added whole spices to it too. I then kept the vegetable raw, instead of cooking them, and I loved the way they added a light, fresh crunch to the salad, and the fresh cilantro or coriander really brought all the elements together. I served this salad warm with a lemon half to squeeze over and the lemon juice really brightened up all the spice flavours. It also tasted pretty good cold the next day with a light vegetable soup. My in-laws loved the spicing in this salad, and it was so healthy and virtuous.
You could easily serve this salad as a side dish with a seared steak, or some pan fried fish. It also goes well with soups and breads as well. Use as little or as much of olive oil as you like, and of course, the vegetables can always be varied according to the season. If you try the recipe out, don't forget to let me know how it went, as I am always looking for feedback on my original recipes :) Enjoy!
This recipe is also an entry to the Canadian Lentils' Recipe Revelation Challenge. If you liked this post, and the recipe, please could you take a moment to go over to the Canadian Lentils Facebook page where I have a link to this post, and 'Like' it? And leave me a comment on this post/ their link too? It would really mean a lot to me :)
And if you're feeling particularly charitable towards me and my recipes, I have a link for my Dahi Vada, Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup with Red Lentils and my very special Dal Bukhara on the Canadian Lentils Facebook page too, just scroll down to find all the posts by Food, Football and a Baby. Thank you very much in advance!!
2 cups green lentils, picked over and washed
2 red or yellow peppers or one of each, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 tablespoon light olive oil
¼ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon homemade Madras curry powder
¼ teaspoon homemade garam masala
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon dried mango powder (amchur) (optional)
Salt to taste
1 lemon, cut in half to squeeze over
Handful fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped to garnish
Place the lentils in a heavy pot, and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, and boil hard for a few minutes, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface.
Lower the heat, and simmer for about 20 - 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender, and just holding their shape.
Once the lentils are cooked, drain and return them to the pot. Add the chopped peppers and carrot and stir together.
Heat the oil in a small pan, then add the cumin and fennel seeds. Then add the Madras curry powder, the garam masala, the ground cumin and the mango powder (if using). Saute for a minute.
Pour the oil, spices and all, into the lentil and vegetable mixture. Stir together, then season to taste with the salt.
Add the fresh chopped coriander and stir. Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over. Goes well as a side dish with meats or fish.