Lentils and beans are light and savory in salad format for the summer. We can save the warm dishes for the winter since they tend to be filling and provide that much needed comfort in the cold months. Salads like this, just like our lentil stews and soups, store well in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days, so make a big batch and enjoy it over the coming days.
While reading up on lentil nutrition this week in preparation for writing this article, I came across these interesting ten facts about lentils presented by Vanessa Perrone, R.D. Nutritionist. Did you know:
1. Canada is the world’s leading exporter of lentils.
2. Saskatchewan produces 97% of Canada’s lentils.
3. Lentils are a nitrogen-fixing crop.
4. Lentils can be bought whole, peeled or split, each step reducing cooking time: Whole 25-30 mins > Peeled 20-25 mins > Split 10-12 mins.
5. Lentils do not require any soaking! That’s right, just cook until tender and add to your favourite dish.
6. Because lentils are grown in rotation with durum wheat they may come into contact with wheat at harvest. But the meticulous processing at the facility makes for a completely gluten-free product.
7. Lentils are an excellent source of fibre with almost 16g per cup.
8. Lentils have a very low glycemic index, which means the rise in blood sugar after eating them will be moderate and steady.
9. 3/4 cup cooked lentils provides more potassium than a large banana along with 13g of protein.
10. Lentils provide more folate than any other plant food.
11. Bonus food fact: The word lens (as in contact lens) was actually inspired by the shape of the split lentil (Who knew?…).
Motivated to eat a healthy bowl of lentils? Here is a lentil salad I created, full of flavor and some lovely fresh ingredients from the garden like mint, parsley, onions and garlic. I find the cumin combined here with the mint and chili flakes gives it a distinct middle eastern flavor. The lemon juice and zest heighten the summer feel to this dish. Enjoy, in joy and in health!
Arabian Mint Lentil Salad
Makes approximately 5 to 6 servings
2 cups (500 ml) green lentils
5 cups (1 ¼ L) water
2 tablespoons (30 ml) grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
½ white onion, thinly sliced
½ cup (125 ml) fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup (60 ml) fresh mint, chopped
¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice (1 or 2 lemons) and lemon zest from one lemon
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) chili flakes
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) cumin
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1. Place lentils in a pot with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer, partially covered, until lentils are soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour (green lentils usually take a little longer to cook than other lentils). When lentils are soft, water will most likely have been fully absorbed. If not, drain excess water. Set lentils aside to cool.
2. In a frying pan, heat grapeseed oil and add garlic. Sauté until slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside to cool.
3. In a blender, add lemon juice and zest, chili flakes, olive oil, cumin, cooled garlic and oil. Blend briefly.
4. Place cooled lentils in a large bowl. Pour dressing from the blender over lentils. Add chopped parsley, mint and onion. Mix well. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Garnish with additional lemon zest and mint leaves, if desired.
“Revere the healing power of nature.” ~Hippocrates
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