Lentil and Rice Salad

Serves 6 (or good for lunch all week!)

Dear Lentils,

You must know how much I love you since  I always have at least 3 of you (red, brown and Le Puy) fully stocked in my pantry.   You are a superstar legume because you’re so easy to cook, so delicious and really so good for my health.  This time I decided to make a salad with you.  This is the kind of dish I will prepare with you at the beginning of the week and will have in my fridge until it finishes. You guarantee me a good lunch when I don’t have much time to put anything together.  You also guarantee that I won’t go for the default lunch, the sandwich, which while not bad can add up to a lot of gluten by the end of the week.  For variations I top you beauties with avocado (of course) or mix with salad greens.  If I’ve got a plantain in the kitchen, I’ll throw that in the oven and have that as a side.  Whatever it is, little lentil, you’re the star of this show.

So what makes you the nutrition powerhouse that you are?  Well, you’re endowed with some pretty special powers.  Your fiber content, both soluble and insoluble, is through the roof.  I know this is good for my digestive system as well as my heart.  Because of your fiber content, you’re also a great blood sugar regulator.  Then, somehow in that little round bean, you also harbor magnesium which is great for the cardiovascular system because you keep calcium in check and the veins free and clear from any blockages.  As a vegetarian I relied on you often for your iron and protein levels. And, throughout my pregnancy, I kept coming back because of all that essential folate I needed.  All this and you’re not high in fat or calories.  You’re awesome, lentils.  Oh, and apparently eating you is good for the Earth!  (Click here to find out how.)

I’ll be back to make more with you, but for now I’ll enjoy you in this delish salad.

Thanks again, lentils.

Love,

Nathalie

You’ll need:

1 C long grain brown rice, soaked overnight in 2C water + 1T lemon juice

1 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 C Le Puy Lentils, rinsed

1 1″ piece kombu

1 bay leaf

1 t sea salt

2 carrots, grated

2 scallions, finely chopped

1/2 C flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

2 T mint, finely chopped

For the dressing:

1 t cumin seeds, toasted

1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 C champagne vinegar (or apple cider vinegar would be lovely, too)

1/4 C fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 T lemon zest (from an organic lemon please)

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To make:

1. Get the rice going first.  Place rice and water in a saucepan with a pinch of salt and 1 T olive oil.   Place on high heat until it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 4o minutes.  Let cool.

2. Place rinsed lentils in a pot with about 3 cups of water, kombu and bay leaf and cook over medium heat, partially covered, for about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.  Discard kombu and bay leaf and let cool.

3. While the rice and lentils are cooking, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk well.

4. In a large bowl, add rice and lentils and combine well before adding the carrots, scallions, parsley and mint.  Once all is combined well, add dressing and stir to coat.

5. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors marry and settle.  They will love each other and you will love it all the more!

6. Enjoy!

Red Lentil Soup

Serves 6

This is one of those deliciously nutritious and EASY dinners.  Red lentils are one of my favorite legumes and they’re one of the quickest to cook.  From start to finish, this meal will be done in 20-30mins!  A gourmet meal in 20-30mins?  Don’t believe me?  Give it a go and let me know how it goes!

It may be fairly obvious by now that I am a cumin lover.  In fact, I’d say it’s pretty hard for me to cook a pot of beans without at least a pinch of cumin.  It is a popular spice in India (think curries), in the Middle East (hello falafels, hummus), and of course, Latin America. The health benefits may explain why this seed spans so many diverse cuisines.

Cumin, a member of the carrot family, is an excellent source of iron (great for growing kids and pregnant and lactating moms!).  It boosts immune system health and is a great digestive aid.  It improves liver function and helps in the assimilation of nutrients.  Most notably, cumin has anti-carcinogenic properties.  Studies have shown that cumin seeds can potentially slow down the growth of stomach and cervical tumors.

Pretty good reasons to cook with cumin!

You’ll need:

1C red lentils, rinsed
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced (I only had a Spanish onion this time)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T (heaping) ground cumin
1 T honey
1 28oz can of whole tomatoes, diced
6C water or veg stock
2-3 bay leaves
Sea salt to taste
Cilantro, optional, for garnish
Creme fraiche, optional, for garnish (I’m off dairy while I’m nursing so no Creme fraiche in my fridge these days.)

To make:
1. In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onions and a pinch of salt.  Cook for about 5 minutes until fragrant and translucent and then add garlic and cook for 3 more minutes.
2. Add lentils, cumin and honey and stir thoroughly.  Add tomatoes with juices and stir to marry the flavors.
3. Finally, add the water (or stock) and the bay leaves.  Cook over medium heat, partially covered for 20mins until lentils are soft.
4. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and some chopped cilantro.  Some country bread would go very nice with this dish, too.
5. Enjoy!