Saturday, June 21, 2014

Quinoa and Green Lentil Summer Salad with Sunflower Seed Parsley Dressing

Apparently today is the first day of summer - woo hoo! I concluded my soup-making plan, during spring, to keep summer away, would eventually stop working for me. Well, if you can't beat them, join them.

In spite of what the population at large may think of vegans, we do not eat salads everyday. In fact, I hardly ever eat salads. I find myself eating salads when I go out to eat. The reason for that is due to bleak selections offered.

Even so, I made a salad now given it is summer. Eating cold foods helps me to remember my long lost friend: Winter.

This salad has a good source of plant protein and complex carbohydrates coupled with good fats (sunflower seeds) to keep you satiated longer.

Quinoa and Green Lentil Summer Salad with Sunflower Seed Parsley Dressing
Quinoa and Green Lentil Summer Salad

Salad Ingredients
1 cup quinoa, cooked in vegetable broth and according to package directions, cooled (I used organic tricolor quinoa)
1 cup green or brown lentils, cooked in vegetable broth and according to package directions, cooled (I used small green lentils)
4 small or medium carrots, peeled and shredded (I used organic rainbow carrots)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced (roughly the same size as the tomatoes)
2 green onions, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon)
Salt to taste (1/2 to 1 teaspoon)

Dressing Ingredients
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
Juice and zest of 1 medium lemon (I used organic lemon due to utilizing its zest and because lemons were on sale)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, firmly packed
2 tablespoons less sodium soy sauce (use Tamari for gluten-free option)
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
Great the next day in a wrap or pita. 
First cook quinoa and green lentils in separate pots. You can do this the night prior. That way, when you are ready to make this salad, your main ingredients - Miss Quinoa and Mr. Green Lentil - will be ready.

I cook one cup of quinoa and 1 cup of green lentils, separately, using the same ratio of vegetable broth (2 cups) to seed (quinoa is a seed not a grain) and legume (green lentils are legumes).

Thus, if you are a rebel and choose to follow my directions instead of the package's, add 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of vegetable broth to a pot, and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes. Follow the same steps with green lentils. However, note the cooking time for green lentils will be longer (about 25 to 30 minutes). Allow both quinoa and green lentils cool completely before beginning this recipe. Be sure to fluff the quinoa with a fork once cooled for a fancy pants effect.

Prep the vegetables and make the dressing while the quinoa and lentils are cooking.

*Tip: To ensure vegetable broth or water evaporates quicker when cooking grains, seeds or legumes, uncover the pot half way between the designated cooking time. For example, uncover the quinoa about 7- 8 minutes into its total cooking time. This technique helps with preventing from the mushy effect to occur.  

Salad time, finally!

Place the cooked and cooled quinoa and green lentils in a large bowl. Add all the vegetables and mix gently. Season with salt and pepper. Taste as you go!

To make the dressing, place all the dressing ingredients in a food processor or a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Pour the dressing over the salad and taste for additional seasonings.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, in a tightly covered container.

Peace out!

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