One of my secrets for healthy eating when we’re at the cottage we rent on Lake Huron (and hey, why not at home too?) is to cook up big batches of whole grains and legumes. They keep well in the refrigerator and can be used over the course of a week in a variety of salads, soups and other dishes.
For the most part, I bring the grains and lentils to the cottage in their dried state, for ease of transportation. Cooked grains and legumes take a lot more space, and need to be kept cool. This time I brought the last of the quinoa from my cupboard, a bag of stylish and new-to-me brown lentils that I found at a health food store just before we left, another of French green lentils and a storage container full of yellow split peas. If I don’t use them all while we’re here, there’s no spoilage and it’s no trouble to take them back home again in their compact dried state.
Early in our stay, I cooked up the quinoa which turned out to be one cup dry and expanded to well over three cups cooked. I also cooked two cups of the brown lentils, yielding about five cups, not to mention stock that I saved to use for soup.
I put some of the cooked quinoa and lentils to use in a colourful salad with an abundance of parsley, enough to merit a mention in the title of the dish. I made up a fairly large amount of a southwest-inspired dressing, and had a bit left over for something else this week. The salad is bright, crunchy, refreshing and wholly satisfying with the heartiness of the lentils and quinoa.
As you might be able to see from a couple of the photos, the Culinary Enthusiast is in a lounge chair on the beach waiting (patiently?) for his lunch. We’ll be eating just as soon as Chicago John of From the Bartolini Kitchens fame and his delightful Zia swim across the lake from Michigan to join us. I imagine there’ll be lots of good talk about food and blogging around the picnic table. Even though this salad will give our guests lots of energy for the swim back, the CE, being the good host that he is, has offered to take them home in our little boat that’s anchored just off shore. Maybe there’ll even be some leftovers that I can send along with them!
Brown Lentil, Quinoa and Parsley Salad
The beauty of a salad like this is that it’s easily adaptable to suit both your preferences and what vegetables you happen to have on hand.
- 2 cups cooked brown lentils
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 4 inches English cucumber, diced
- 1 medium tomato, cubed
- 3 – 4 carrot sticks, diced
- 3 – 4 celery sticks, diced
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced (I soaked the diced onion in cold water for about 20 minutes to lessen its bite)
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 2 big handsful parsley, diced
Combine all ingredients in a big bowl and toss with the dressing below; start with several tablespoons and then add more until all the salad is nicely coated but not wet. Taste and adjust seasonings as required. I found mine needed more zing, and ending up using all the juice of one small and relatively parsimonious lemon.
The main flavour note in this salad dressing is cumin. I’m drawn to its intense, earthy aroma and flavour. I think half a minced garlic clove would be an excellent addition; unfortunately, I didn’t have any on hand when I was making this. Next time!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp minced lemon zest
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until well blended.