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Monday, January 9, 2012

beluga lentil salad -- gluten free + dairy free

i've been on a nutty health kick as of late. i'm trying to eliminate as much sugar and white foods from my diet anywhere possible. to help do so - i'm taking a break from baking cookies, cakes, breads, etc. instead - i'm focusing more on eating beans, whole grains (like brown rice instead of white), lean protein, nuts and loads and loads of fresh veggies. really focusing on eating ultra healthy veggies, in particular those packed full of calcium. i'm on track thus far with introducing more calcium laden foods - like cabbage, kale, and a tad of soy (i'm not a huge fan of soy) - but its typically fortified with calcium. another type of food that i'd really like to eat more of - are beans and lentils.

i just picked up a bunch of beautiful black and white heirloom calypso beans by rancho gordo after trying them with chargrilled asparagus and dried cherries dressed in a delicious vinaigrette at dish gourmet in boulder. if youre local to boulder and  havent checked out dish gourmet yet - get your bottom-side there. they have an amazing selection of sandwiches - all of which can all be prepared on their house made gluten free-to-freakin-die-for-bread.  and it gets better - each day dish gourmet makes an assortment of yummy sides and each is labeled with a small symbol denoting if they are gluten, dairy, nut free, etc.  may i suggest the halfacre vegetarian sandwich on gluten free bread with white bean spread instead of blue cheese? and you'd be totally insane not to substitute a side dish instead of the chips that come with your sandwich for an additional $1.25 - it'll be the best buck and change you've spent in a while.

feeling ever so inspired by all of dish's amazing side dishes - i've been on a side dish kick - experimenting with lots of bean and lentil salads. i was sitting around the house one day with mark and was excited to bust open the new bag of beluga lentils that i picked up and had no idea what to do with them...

it would be a cop-out to just make my traditional lentil soup with them - so i assaulted the pantry and fridge and came up with a mishmash of things to throw into my cooked lentils. this dish has definitely mediterranean undertones and reminds me of tabbouleh. ever heard of beluga lentils? these perfect little lentil gems are a black and hence their name, resemble beluga caviar. they cook up quickly and are great al dente. toss them with various ingredients and serve as a cold salad. they are truly a blank slate and cant be done so many ways.

beluga lentil salad

  • 1 cup beluga (black) lentils - picked over and rinsed off
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped tomato (i scored some heirlooms at whole foods)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber (i used an english cuke)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 3 tbsp rinsed capers
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp light agave nectar
  • kosher salt + pepper to taste

after picking over lentils for rocks and other foreign debris combine them in a pot with 2 cups of water and turn stove burner onto high. allow water to boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover pot with a lid - tilt the lid slightly to the side so that steam can escape. allow lentils to cook ~20 minutes.  i like under cooking these vs cooking them to the point where they get mushy - i like them to maintain their shape integrity and have a toothyness to them. meanwhile - place tomato, parsley, capers and green onions into a large bowl. once the lentils are cooked pour them (and any remaining water) into a colander allowing excess water to drain off. pour lentils into bowl with tomato, parsley, capers and green onions. gently stir to mix and add in olive oil, agave nectar, red wine vinegar, kosher salt and paper to taste. i typically like to serve this cold - and pop it into the fridge for around 2-3 hours before serving.

i prefer to serve my salad as a cold side dish or served on top of raw kale and lettuce. i've even enjoyed them for breakfast with eggs and avocado. like i said previously, lentils are a blank slate - use whatever you have on hand - be creative! go forth and lentil!