Lentils are so versatile, tasty and easy to prepare, it’s a wonder people aren’t talking about, or eating them more.
I didn’t always think this way though. My mom cooked lentils occasionally and mixed them with rice, which I found to be a rather bland meal. Later on, in adulthood, I found out that this type of meal was quite common in various parts of the world, partly because lentils are an almost-complete protein and can therefore replace meat. They lack only one protein, methionine. Adding grains, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat or dairy products to the lentils will make it a complete protein.
Lentils are also high in folic acid, something us pregnant and lactating mommies can appreciate. Then there’s the iron. If you add vitamin C rich foods into the salad, it will help absorb the iron better into your system. So chop up some tomatos or peppers, it’ll make your salad colourful and nutritious.
There are many varieties of lentils, but I mostly use the green or brown ones because they retain their shape when used in salads. Salads like this one I made recently:
What’s missing in this winter salad is the fresh herbs I add when making similar salads during summer. But don’t let the picture fool you; this is only one of many different kinds of variations. All you have to do is open your fridge and snip, chop, slice or cut whatever you happen to have on hand into a bowl. Mix it up with the lentils and some funky salad dressing, and there you have a nice, nutritious, high-protein and probably fairly low-calorie lunch.
For dressings, I usually find that less is more. Some sea salt, a bit of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and maybe some dried savoury or black pepper, and there you have it. When I use red or white onion, I sometimes mix a bit of maple syrup into the dressing. During the summer, I like using fresh herbs like chives, summer savoury, parsley or coriander, and sometimes I pour a touch of white wine in the mixture. Whatever you fancy…just experiment and enjoy.
Tip: I find that the package instructions for cooking lentils are usually too long. In my experience, undercooking the lentils slightly will allow them to marinate in the dressing longer. Cooking them too long will make them fall apart, and then the salad will look, and taste, like mush.