In my foods classes I love to discuss with my students how in the past, the wealthy folks could afford processed white flour, choice meats and cheeses, and copious alcohol. The poor farmers ground their grains themselves and ate more beans, seeds, and vegetables (and obviously, were way healthier). Now the situation has flipped! The McDonald’s dollar menu is full of refined grains, fatty meats and cheeses while the well to do haunt the local whole foods, paying an arm and a leg for things like sprouted mung beans.
The thing is, you can have the best of both worlds. I recently bought a bag of pale green lentils from Giant that cost less than three dollars. Lentils are CRAZY good for you but no one seems to knows what to do with them (myself included, except for this delish lentil soup
). I was thrilled to see this recipe in my America’s Test Kitchen cook book and hoped it would tastes as good as it looked. The ingredients list was simple and I had most items on hand.
Oh. My. Gosh. It was SO good. My husband came in the room just as I was finishing and he eyed the bowl skeptically. This dish definitely looks “healthy”. I force fed him a huge spoonful and he LOVED it! I had leftover chicken in the fridge so I served his lentils with the meat but ate mine plain – plenty of protein and loads of fiber meant it was a perfect dinner for me.
The leftovers became my lunch for the next day and I made a mental note to make a double batch of this on the weekend and portion out lentil lunches for the week – cheap, ridiculously good for you amazingly delicious meal ideas are hard to come by and I won’t forget this one.
Lentil Salad with Spinach, Walnuts and Parmesan Cheese
America’s Test Kitchen
1 c. lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
6 c. warm water
2 c. chicken broth
5 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
1 bay leaf
5 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. sherry or white wine vinegar
4 c. baby spinach
1 shallot, minced
3/4 c. coarsely grated or chopped parmesan cheese
1/3 c. chopped, toasted walnuts
1. Combine lentils, 4 c. warm water and 1 tsp. salt in a bowl and soak for 1 hour.
2. Drain well (drained lentils can be refrigerated up to 2 days before cooking).
3. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine drained lentils, remaining 2 c. water, chicken broth, garlic, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. salt in medium (oven safe, meaning no plastic or rubber) saucepan.
4. Bake, lid on, for 40 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, whisk oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Next, place 4 c. spinach and 2 tbsp. water in a bowl and microwave, covered, for 3 minutes.
6. Let spinach cool, then squeeze as much liquid as possible from spinach. Roughly chop and set aside.
7. When lentils are finished, drain well (and remove garlic and bay leaf). Add drained lentils, shallot, spinach and parmesan cheese to bowl with dressing. Toss well.
8. Serve, sprinkled with toasted walnuts.