lentils

Moroccan Carrot and Lentil Salad

Moroccan Carrot and Lentil Salad | A Thought For Food (www.athoughtforfood.net)

Since the beginning of April, our weekends have been consumed by trips to the Cape. We're getting close to the end of the major work. The main bathroom has been gutted, which is probably our biggest obstacle at this point. There are a few exterior elements... an outdoor shower that's being constructed and some painting... that remain. It's both exciting and slightly overwhelming. But that's home ownership, right? I decided to take this past weekend off, opting to stay home and get projects finished up and some cooking done. I've taken a much longer hiatus from the blog than I'd intended, but I have a few things lined up these next couple of weeks. I'm starting off with a bowl of Moroccan spiced carrots and lentils. While it feels very fall, this is a year-round dish... and an excellent side for an outdoor feast.  It's savory and sweet with a hit of acidity from the citrusy dressing. I've eaten plenty of it on its own, but it certainly feels like the perfect pairing for a platter of grilled chicken or fish.

Moroccan Carrot and Lentil Salad | A Thought For Food (www.athoughtforfood.net)

Moroccan Carrot and Lentil Salad

Servings:
6-8, as a side dish

Ingredients:
1 cup dry green lentils, rinsed and drained
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut at a bias into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil
Salt
Black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup currants
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions
Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the lentils and turn the heat down to medium, letting it simmer for 20-25 minutes, until cooked (but not mushy). Drain of any remaining liquid. Transfer lentils to a serving bowl to let cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the cumin, cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the carrots to a separate bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil, followed by the spice mix. Spread carrots over the prepared baking pan and transfer to the oven. Cook for 30 minutes, giving the carrots a stir halfway through. 

While the carrots are cooking, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a pan set over medium-high heat. Cook the onion for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer onion to the serving bowl with the lentils.

Prepare the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, chopped dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Pour over the lentils and onion and carefully stir to combine, making sure not to mash up the lentils. 

Once the carrots have finished cooking, carefully toss them with the lentils, along with the currants. Season with salt, to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve warm or at room temp.

Kale, Green Bean, and Lentil Salad with Crispy Tofu

Am I the only one who isn't over kale? I never became obsessed with it the way others did. Maybe that's why I still dig it. As a salad base, it holds up under bold dressings, never getting limp or soggy (Eric calls this "Dead Salad," which is something he actually enjoys eating. Don't ask me why. It's one of his quirks that I've grown to tolerate). Initially, this was going to be a green bean dish, but when I was at the store, things just ended up in my basket. The kale, some lentils, a container of tofu. And I thought, "Hey, these would all go nicely together!" Funny how that happens.

As is the case with all successful dishes, this bowl didn't last long.  (The photo down there of the half-eaten salad wasn't just me styling the plate... that's how it really looked). There was just enough left over to throw a container in the fridge. When I went back and hour later to grab another forkful, I found that it'd gotten even better, the kale tenderized and the flavors dispersed. So, if you can be patient, it's worth the wait. 

Kale, green bean, and lentil salad with crispy tofu


SERVINGS
4-6 as a side

INGREDIENTS
Tuscan kale, rinsed and stems removed
3/4 cup cooked lentils
1, 14 oz block extra firm tofu
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
Chinese five spice blend
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt

DIRECTIONS
Line a large plate with a couple pieces of paper towel. Place the block of tofu on the paper towel and weigh it down with something (a heavy can will do), to release as much liquid as possible. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, tear the kale into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a serving bowl. In a wok or large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Season with 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice blend and 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer to bowl with the kale.

Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes and season with a sprinkle of salt and a dusting of Chinese five spice blend. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the same wok and set over medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they brown even. Transfer the tofu to the bowl with the kale and green beans. 

Add the lentils on top of the other ingredients.

Make the dressing by whisking together sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour the dressing on on top and, using tongs, toss to combine. 

You can serve immediately, but it gets better if it sits for 30 minutes (or a few hours).