18 June 2011

Curried lentil salad

Yes, this is a terrible photo.

A example of how we decide on dinner plans:

I went to the warehouse store this morning and brought home stuff that required a freezer rearrangement. I managed to fit everything in, but clearly we needed to start using the frozen stuff.

So on the way home from lunch we considered the state of our stores. A google search later and I had settled on a curried lentil salad which would use green beans from the freezer, lentils from the pantry, celery from the crisper and some of the cilantro left over from beans and rice on Thursday night. A trip to the store was required for the tomatoes.

This was a much more civilized menu planning process than I normally undertake.

The salad is vegetarian, easily made vegan, low fat, high fiber, gluten free, iron rich, colorful and straightforward. It also makes plenty.

Curried Lentil Salad

8 ounces dried brown lentils
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic
1" piece fresh ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt.  (optional)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 stalks celery
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, packed
2 cups green beans, fresh or frozen.
juice of 1 lime

Sort and rinse lentils.  Place in a medium saucepan with 6 cups cool water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes, until lentils are tender.

While the lentils are cooking, put the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Dice onion and add to skillet with remaining salt, continue cooking, stirring occasionally for five minutes.  Crush the garlic and finely grate the ginger.  When the onions are soft add the garlic, ginger and curry powder.  Stir over medium heat until mixture becomes fragrant.  Remove from heat and move mixture to a large heat safe bowl. Stir in the yogurt, if using.

Wash and quarter the tomatoes.  Slice the celery into 2-inch matchsticks.   Roughly chop the cilantro.  Set the vegetables aside.

Wash the green beans if using fresh.  Snap the beans into 2- to 3-inch lengths and place a colander.

When the lentils are cooked, drain them in the colander over the green beans.  Add the lentils and beans to the onion mixture and stir to combine.  Allow lentil mixture to cool completely.

Stir in the tomatoes, cilantro and celery.   Add lime juice and taste for seasoning.

You can prepare the lentils and green beans up to two days ahead, but don't add the other vegetables or lime juice until just before serving.

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