I often think of lentils as a big bowl of hot lentil soup to enjoy in the cold months. But this b is here to change things up!
I would describe myself as a 90% vegetarian. What does that mean exactly?
Basically I choose to eat vegetarian meals about 90% of the time. The other 10% I will eat what friends or family cook (meat or not) or I’ll eat meat when in a foreign country where it’s part of the local cuisine. It is a little odd but this works for me!
I find it much easier and less stressful to simply enjoy other people’s cooking and company without having to add an eating restriction. And for the other 90% of the time I get to experiment with delicious vegetarian meals made in my own kitchen (or the occasional restaurant).
Why be a vegetarian at all?
The main reason is it makes me feel good and happy. Since college I have found that a more plant based diet makes me feel better, healthier and all around happier. Eating lots of meat makes me feel bloated, slow and heavy to be totally honest. And I feel like my digestion just doesn’t work the same when I consume meat, like when I ate way too much sausage in Germany… not good (TMI).
The secondary reason is, I feel bad for the animals that are mistreated. I have nothing against hunting for food (not sport!) and eating animals that have lived a good life, but I do have a problem with factory farms. I will not go into the gory details of animal cruelty in these places, but for me at least, it’s definitely a meat turn-off.
And I should add that I am not at all opposed or against carnivores. My hubs and daughter both eat lots of meat. And I still kind of love them😋 Good news is that I do the groceries at our house, so at least I try to buy them organic, grass-fed, hormone free, free range animal products whenever possible.
So that’s me. I’m a 90% vegetarian that really truly loves veggies. Nice to meet you 🙋
The reason I wanted to share this, is because lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my protein intake especially with baby on the way. According to my doc, I should be getting roughly 70g of protein a day.
After doing the math, that seems like a lot! Especially when I do not eat meat regularly. This is where my buddies, legumes come in. One in particular that I LOVE, are lentils.
Normally I’d think of lentils in hot lentil soup but a few years ago, I started making cold lentil salads for work and got hooked!
Basically lentils are the star of this recipe, so it’s key that you use the right one, black or French/du puy lentils are best here. Then you add a bit of spring produce like asparagus and peas. Top it all with a vibrant lemony tahini dressing and you have yourself a totally satisfying protein-packed and totally portable spring lunch!
Good news for all of us keeping an eye on protein, this salad has a whopping 21g of protein per serving!
Today my lentil salad will be enjoyed with some homemade Naan at the park while I watch my toddler play 💃 no complaints here.
Serves 3 healthy portions
- 1 1/2 cups lentils, rinsed (black or French/du puy)
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends broken off and chopped
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 1 teaspoon za’atar (optional)
- 1/2 - 1 lemon, juiced based on taste preference
- Olive oil for roasting veggie and drizzling
- 1/4 cup tahini paste
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 - 4 tablespoons warm water (depending on thickness of tahini paste)
- Rinse lentils. Place lentils in a medium pot along with 3 cups of water.
- Bring water to a boil and reduce heat to medium and simmer lentils for about 18-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain lentils and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 425F and line one large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Place chopped asparagus on a prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- While asparagus and lentils cook, blanch the peas for about a minute or so in plenty of boiling water. Drain and set aside.
- For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini paste, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. It should be thick. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of hot water (depending on how thick your tahini is, you might need more or less) and whisk until smooth. The dressing should resemble thick salad dressing. Taste for salt and lemon juice.
- Assemble Salad: Toss lentils, asparagus and peas in a bowl. Drizzle tahini dressing over salad, a little extra virgin olive oil and a good squirt of lemon juice. Enjoy with soft buttery Naan, crusty bread or over a bed of fresh greens.
I used frozen peas but fresh will work beautifully of course. To make this more of a “green” salad, serve over bed of baby spinach or arugula. Lentil salad will save for 5 days in the fridge. Add the dressing before eating. The dressing is crucial to this meal so if you decide to omit it, make sure you replace it with a substantial and flavorful dressing.
Recipe inspired by A Beautiful Plate.