Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Black lentils salad with red cabbage and ginger vinaigrette

These days, I am always on the run.
Having less time to spend in the kitchen, a better organization at home is required. 

I have to confess, though, that I am not used to plan a meal in advance, I consider myself a 'spontaneous cook', I sometimes create a recipe at the very last moment, with the ingredients I have easily at hand in our fridge or on our cupboard shelves.

The only tip I've found really useful so far is cooking grains, beans or vegetables in advance, and prepare whatever-the-dish with them, according to our seasonal cravings.

This week, it was salad: crunchy red cabbage, fresh chives, feta cheese and lentils. Black lentils.

'Lenticchie Beluga' as they call them, here in Italy.

The main source for this salad is a recipe I've recently pinned down in an old issue of 'Elle à table'. As for the vinaigrette I have to thank Coco, a great photographer and fantastic blogger, and her inspiring ideas and posts, this one in particular.

I've slightly adapted her recipe to my taste, you can stick to the original version though, and the result will be scrumptious, I am pretty sure of it.

Serve the salad with some roasted wholegrain bread or crackers, and you'll have a super natural and high-protein meal!

You can also veganize this recipe by leaving out the feta cheese and using rice syrup instead of honey.

Ingredients for the salad (serves 4):

red cabbage: 300 gr - 10,5 oz.- thinly sliced
black lentils: 100 gr - 1/2 cup - 3,5 oz.
feta cheese: 56 gr - 2 oz.
red onion: 30 gr - 1 oz. - thinly sliced
coarse salt: 1/2 tblsp

Ingredients for the vinaigrette:

extra virgin olive oil: 125 ml - 1/2 cup
white wine vinegar: 1 tblsp
honey: 1 tblsp
dijon mustard: 1 tblsp
fresh ginger: 1/2 half tblsp - grated
salt and pepper: to taste

For garnish:

fresh chives: 2 tablespoons - roughly chopped

Carefully wash the black lentils, rinse and drain them.

Bring water (2 cups at least) to a boil in a medium size saucepan, add the lentils. Reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes. Make sure the water doesn't boil down below the level of the lentils and add more if necessary. Add salt in about the last 15 minutes of cooking time. 

I like the lentils 'al dente' - not too soft - so if you want them more tender allow some extra cooking time. Once ready, sieve the lentils in a colander and let them cool down.

Meanwhile whisk together white wine vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, grated ginger and extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve.

In a large bowl mix red cabbage with black lentils and red onion (you'd better slice it at the very last moment). Pour the vinagrette on the salad and let 'sit' for 10-15 minutes, then toss to coat and place into individual bowls or plates. Add bits of feta cheese - if you like so - and chives.

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