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Perfect Brown Bag Lunch: Late Summer Lentil Salad Recipe

Posted by on Sep 5, 2012 in Lunch, Recipes | No Comments

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Ah, back to work, back to school.

I was inspired by a friend’s blog post I read yesterday about how taking your own lunch to work can help to both save money (enough for a vacation, if my memory serves me) and save extra calories from being deposited in your junk.

As a holistic nutritionist and health enthusiast, I have no problem bringing food with me when I’m on the go. I enjoy it. But I realize that this isn’t exactly doable for everyone. In my past life in marketing, I definitely didn’t bring food with me. I got used to many of the lovely convenience food items available near the office (including Wendy’s taco salad as a lunch most days – think about how many calories were being deposited into my junk!). Then I changed my tune and became inspired to bring food from home. I used to make this lentil salad whenever inspiration struck, and found that it was easy to take it to work with me. So I am telling you that it is doable. Win/win!

Simple salads such as this one are perfect for busy people. Just the thought of late summer made me crave this hearty, delicious salad. Lentils have an… earthy taste about them. They were among the first cultivated grains, and are a staple food in India. The earthiness of lentils can be quite grounding. But this salad has plenty of bright, herby and crunchy ingredients to keep it light. And there’s not a bad ingredient in it.

This lovely lentil salad travels well. It’s the perfect brown-bag lunch. Make it on a Sunday and presto! You have lunch for the rest of the week.

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are some other reasons to make a lovely lentil salad:

  • Lentils cook quickly. Most varieties will cook up in 20 minutes or so, and you don’t need to pre-soak them.
  • There are lots of varieties of lentils that you can use in this salad. My favourites include green lentils, brown lentils, French lentils (a variation on green) and beluga lentils (they look like black caviar and are the smallest, and in my opinion, the most beautiful lentils).
  • Lentils are rich in dietary fibre. Dietary fibre helps to stabilize blood sugar, aids in elimination, and can help keep the heart healthy. And when it comes to lunch, fibre helps you feel full.
  • It’s a versatile salad. You can fill it out with any other market veggies of your choice. Serve it over a bed of greens, and top it with even more herbs.
  • And it’s really pretty, especially if you can find the gorgeous heirloom carrots and tomatoes that are abundant right now. If you’re good at cutting, you may even be able to fool your coworkers into thinking that you bought your lentil salad somewhere fancy. Just saying. Anyhoo, here’s the recipe!

Late Summer Lentil Salad

1 cup French, green, brown or beluga lentils, rinsed
3 cups of water
4 bay leaves

1 red bell pepper, chopped into small dice
½ cup carrots, diced
½ cup celery, diced
¼ red onion, diced
3 tbsp fresh dill (depending on taste) OR ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 cup cherry tomatoes

Dressing:

1 tbsp Dijon mustard + 1 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or 3 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp Celtic sea salt
Pepper to taste

Cook the lentils with the bay leaves in 2-3 cups water, skimming off any foam. When lentils are al dente, remove from heat, strain and rinse. Allow to dry.

Chop veggies, and reserve in a large bowl.

Assemble dressing.

When lentils have dried and cooled, add to vegetable mixture and top with dressing. Stir, and allow to sit for at least an hour to intensify the flavours (lentils tend to absorb flavours – this salad will get better after a few hours). Adjust seasoning and serve.

Looking for other simple salads? Check out my Mediterranean Quinoa Salad recipe.

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