I have a lot of love for lentils. I could even count the ways: culinarily, nutritionally, texturally, and versatilely. (You can read about my family history with the legume in this post.) Suffice it to say they’re a pantry staple for me and I like finding ways to serve them up besides the traditional bowl of soup or dal. This Spinach and Lentil Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette fits the bill. It’s a recreation of a wonderful dish I had at the wonderful The Fork at Agate Bay in my wonderful town of Bellingham.
It’s almost like the folks at The Fork followed some kind of checklist to create this recipe to make the perfect salad. It’s got everything – savory, sweet, crunchy, chewy, soft, and creamy, all rounded out with the tang of lemony acidity. And from a nutrition standpoint it’s got a lot going for it: vitamin-A-rich leafy greens, protein-rich legumes, calcium-rich cheese, and monounsaturated-fat-rich walnuts. Lucky for us, when taken together it’s also a remarkably tasty mix.
- 8 ounces Le Puy green lentils (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- 2 cups vegetable broth (I use 1 cube Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillon with Sea Salt, prepared according to package directions, dissolved in 2 cups water)
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1½ lemons)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups spinach, chopped
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
- ¼ cup raisins
- 2 ounces candied or caramelized walnuts, roughly chopped
- 4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
- Salt and pepper
- Rinse lentils and drain. Add to medium saucepan with broth. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 minutes or until tender but still whole. Set aside to partially cool. (I spread mine out on a large plate to speed this up a bit.)
- In small jar, mix together lemon juice and olive oil for the dressing.
- Divide spinach and basil equally among four plates. Top each with ¾ cup cooked lentils. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the lemon vinaigrette.
- To each salad add 1 tablespoon raisins, ½ ounce candied walnuts, and 1 ounce cheddar cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Not yet convinced to try lentils in a salad? Take a peek at these additional nutrition facts: 70%DV vitamin A, 30% DV vitamin C, 25%DV calcium, 30%DV iron.
Trust me…if you can’t imagine liking lentils, let alone loving them, give this recipe a whirl. The salty white cheddar, sweet raisins, and candied walnuts just might bring about a change of heart.
What’s your favorite way to bust out of the lentil soup routine and feature these legumes at the center of your plate?