Tag Archives: healthy salads

French Green Lentil Salad

Till last year, I was a ‘one-dimensional lentil’ person.

Yep, that’s a phrase I just coined now. So let me explain; till last year, the only lentil I really cooked with was toor dal or split pigeon peas. While I did make different recipes using pigeon peas, it was more or less the only variety I stocked up in my pantry.

It’s not that I didn’t know about other lentils or pulses, but somehow never ventured outside the familiar zone and actually cook with any other variety. A decision to incorporate more lentils and pulses into our daily diet is what made me start experimenting initially.

I picked up a packet of the soup mix at our local shop, but instead of using it as a base for just soups alone, I started using it in this khichdi recipe and also to prepare regular dal curries. Soon I began to shop for all sorts of lentils and pulses from around the world incorporating it into various stews, curries etc…. I even made a delicious lamb curry and haricot beans which was one of my more recent finds.

But this was the first time I am making a salad using lentils.

French Green Lentil Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

I had heard much about the French Puy lentils but recently I also came across the French Green lentils which got me confused as both looked quite similar to me. A bit of research later, I came to understand that both lentils are the same variety except that the term Puy is given to the lentils that are specifically grown in the Puy region of France as these are cultivated in the distinct volcanic soil there. And these lentils grown anywhere else are called French green lentils.

Since I am a big believer of ‘shop local’, I found that I was able to buy French green lentils grown in Australia through Mount Zero Olives, hence that’s the brand I have used for this salad.

This French green lentil salad turned out to be one of the best salads I have eaten in the recent times. It’s fresh, vibrant, and healthy with oodles of flavour. It’s great as a salad dish but also works brilliantly as a side with grilled meats, seafood etc….

The French green lentils are small, mottled and almost grayish green in colour and not a vibrant green as you would imagine from the name. It has a slightly peppery flavour and a soft yet firm texture when cooked that makes it really unique especially in salads like this.

French green lentils - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

French Green Lentil Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

No pre-soaking is necessary as the French green lentils cook really fast unlike other lentils. And as I mentioned, it does not get mushy and holds shape which adds a beautiful textural element to the salad.

So let’s hop right into the recipe and whip up this super delicious and healthy French green lentil salad.

Ingredients:

  1. ¾ cup French green lentils; washed well and drained
  2. 1 red onion; finely chopped
  3. 5 baby qukes (or Lebanese cucumber); finely chopped
  4. ½ red bell pepper; finely chopped
  5. ½ cup olives; sliced
  6. 2 tbsp capers
  7. 2 medium tomatoes; finely chopped
  8. 2 tbsp fresh parsley; finely chopped
  9. 1 cup baby spinach; coarsely chopped
  10. 3 baby radish; finely chopped

Dressing:

  1. 2 tsp jalapeno mustard (use any kind of mustard)
  2. 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1 tbsp verjuice (replace with red wine vinegar, apple cider or any type of vinegar)
  4. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Cook the washed green lentils in salted boiling water; drain and keep aside. (Takes approximately 15-20 minutes to cook)
  2. To the drained lentils, add the spinach leaves and mix through. The residual heat slightly wilts the spinach which is all the cooking that it needs.
  3. To a salad bowl, add the lentils with spinach and all the remaining chopped veggies and herbs.
  4. To make the dressing, add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk well.
  5. Pour this over the salad just before serving; toss well to combine.
  6. Enjoy!

French Green Lentil Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Advertisements

Ethiopian Tomato Salad

There’s a new salsa in town!

Yes, I am talking of this humble Ethiopian tomato salad which has become our homestead’s current salsa fixation.

Similar ingredients…yet not similar flavours, the signature flavour that marks this tomato salad different from a traditional salsa is ginger.

Vegetarian meals are quite common in Ethiopia; simple and humble meals yet packed with flavour making the best use of ingredients available locally. Some of the common dishes that make up a traditional Ethiopian vegetarian platter is the yemisir wot – an oily red lentil stew generously spiced, yekik alicha – a yellow split pea stew flavoured with turmeric, tikil gomen – carrots, potatoes and cabbage simmered in a turmeric sauce.

Simple salads are also an integral part of the platter, this Ethiopian tomato salad being an example. And of course, no meal is complete without the breaking of the injera.

Much like the Indian style of eating, Ethiopians believe in a communal meal – friends and family coming together around the food. And fancy cutlery has no place here, pieces of injera are broken and the fingers are deftly used to scoop up the lentils, stews and salads. Eating with your hands might seem like the most natural thing for those who are used to it but for our Western counterparts, this can often be the most challenging part of a meal.

I found some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes at the market and used these for this salad. I used both the green and red varieties but you could use just regular tomatoes. Also, I love chunky pieces of tomatoes in my salsa/salad instead of the saucy types so I went for a rough chop.

1

Like I mentioned, the signature or defining flavour of this Ethiopian tomato salad comes from ginger. Grated ginger is added to olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to make a flavourful dressing for the tomatoes. And for that touch of heat, chopped yellow onions and fresh jalapenos!

2

3

This Ethiopian tomato salad recipe comes from here.


Ingredients:

1. 3 large heirloom tomatoes; roughly chopped
2. 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (use white or red if you cannot find yellow)
3. 2 fresh jalapenos, finely chopped (deseed if you wish to)

For the dressing:

4. 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5. 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
6. 1.5 tsp grated fresh ginger
7. Salt, to season
8. Black pepper, to season

Method:

1. Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing and keep aside.
2. Mix the chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapenos in a large bowl.
3. Add the dressing and mix well just before serving.

4

5

Enjoy it as a traditional salad or as a chunky salsa….I did both!

6

Stuffed Cucumber Salad

For a person who has an insane passion for all things food, many find it incredibly surprising that I own very few cookbooks. I have 4 books, pertaining to food!

And this is even more surprising for those who know that reading is my biggest hobby, one that I share in equal measure with my boys. But whilst we have a huge collection of other books, I have never found myself wanting any cookbooks.

But I find that slowly changing now; guess the passion is becoming an obsession and I do gravitate towards the food section every time I am in a bookstore now. The cookbooks that fascinate me the most are ones from the yesteryears; most of these do not have any amazing photography, exotic ingredients or cooking styles. But these books do have a wealth of information and stays true to the writer’s background, culture and tradition.

And one of the best places to find such treasures is at my local Red Cross charity shop. One man’s waste is another’s treasure! You can find me at least once a month here and I come home laden with vintage props, table cloths, cookbooks etc… You will find things here that are impossible to come across in a regular store and at such incredibly low prices.

One of my favourite cookbooks that I purchased from here is Marguerite Patten’s 1000 Favourite Recipes (and shhh, the book just costed me a dollar!)

A thousand recipes…….and that’s where this stuffed cucumber salad comes from.

This stuffed cucumber salad is the perfect canapé for your spring/summer party. It is easy to make, refreshing, delicious, looks pretty and stylish too.

11

I made a few changes to the originally outlined recipe and created my stuffing using boiled eggs, tomatoes, feta, parsley and chives. Pick out the freshest cucumbers that you can find and go for ones with slightly thicker skins so that it holds shape. And to get a contrasting look, I peeled the skin of the cucumber in an alternate fashion.

So let’s get to making stuffed cucumber salad – refreshing crunchy cucumber slices filled with soft mashed eggs, tangy sweet tomatoes, salty creamy feta and fresh herbs.

12

15

Ingredients:

1. 1 large, thick (not the overripe ones) cucumber
2. Salt, to season
3. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
4. 1 tbsp lemon juice
5. For the filling;
• 2 boiled eggs
• 1 tomato, blanched, skinned and chopped finely
• 2 tbsp feta cheese
• 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
• 1 tbsp chives, chopped
• 1 tbsp mayonnaise

Method:

1. Peel the cucumber skin in alternate strips as shown in the picture. This is not mandatory but adds to the visual appeal of the finished dish.
2. Cut the cucumber into thick circles; scoop out the seeded part in the centre leaving just a thin layer at the bottom to hold the stuffing.
3. Season the cucumber slices with salt, pepper and lemon juice. This also helps to draw out the excess water and firms up the cucumber a bit.
4. To prepare the filling, mix the eggs, tomatoes, herbs, mayonnaise and then sprinkle in the feta. Mix well to form a creamy texture; if you think the mixture is runny, then add more eggs or cheese to firm it up.
5. To assemble, line the cucumber pieces, fill with the stuffing and garnish with chives. Place in a platter and refrigerate till serving time.

13

14

There’s just one more day remaining for my first blog anniversary giveaway to end. Have your taken part?

Meditteranean Chickpea Salad + my new kitchen appliance!

My foray into the food blogging world has paved the way for a whole lot of good friendships. I am not a person quick to make friends but I was surprised to find so many good buddies when I started on this food journey. Maybe it’s our similar culinary interests that helped start off these relationships without any of the awkwardness that I usually experience.

And one such friendship developed with a beautiful Chennai lassie, Nanditha Suresh, who currently resides in Sydney, Australia. We have never met but the bond that we share over food is wonderful and a first time experience for me. Nanditha’s food philosophy is clean and healthy eating (and of course delicious) and she runs a Facebook page, Kitchening About, where you can get amazing recipes for healthy, vegetarian food from around the globe. Personally for me, I simply love her soup recipes.

mediterranean chickpea salad

This salad is loosely based on a chickpea salad recipe I found on her page. I tweaked it a bit adding a few Meditteranean flavours like crumbled feta on top. So here is my recipe for a refreshing, delicious summer dish packing with nutrients – Meditteranean chickpea salad

Ingredients:

1. Chickpeas – 1 cup, soaked and cooked (you can use canned chickpeas but I like to prepare it fresh)
2. Lebanese cucumber – 1, finely diced
3. Red onion – 1, finely diced
4. Ripe red tomato (pulp removed)– 1, finely diced
5. Red bell pepper – 1, finely diced
6. Feta cheese – 100gm, crumbled

For the dressing:

7. Lemon – juice of 1 lemon
8. Balsamic vinegar – 1 tsp
9. Salt – to season
10. White pepper – to season
11. Olive oil – 1 tbsp.

mediterranean chickpea salad 1

Method:

• Cook the chickpeas and drain the excess water.
• In a bowl, combine all the diced vegetables and chickpeas.
• Prepare the dressing by mixing ingredients 7-11 in a bowl (feta is salty so remember to add less salt) and mix well to combine.
• Crumble feta over the vegetables and chickpeas.
• Pour the dressing on top just before serving.
• Toss well and serve.

mediterranean chickpea salad 2

And now coming to my new kitchen appliance……

Ta ta da…..

002

Unfortunately, I had to leave behind my wooden mortar and pestle when I came to Australia but now, I have this new baby……

I have always wanted a black stone mortar and pestle just like used in the olden times. But bringing one from India is almost an impossible option because of its sheer weight. There are many Asian stores that sell these in and around Melbourne but I chose to buy it from Kitchenware Direct – my go to website for kitchen appliances here. The prices are quite competitive and there is a wide array of kitchen related appliance, utensils etc…that you can find here. No, I am not endorsed in any way by this site (they are not even aware of me and my blog); this is just me sharing my views of the website with my fellow bloggers.

So, stay tuned for recipe using this new kitchen favourite of mine…….Bon appetite!

Feta, Artichoke and Walnut Salad

This salad recipe is a first for me in many aspects – it is the first time I am using walnuts in a salad and also the first time I tasted artichokes. And the latter made this salad quite a technical one for me as I decided to use fresh artichokes and learn how to peel off the layers and get to the heart instead of opting for canned ones. But it was worth the effort as this salad turned out to be one of the best I have eaten in a long time.

I loved the fact that the salad did not incorporate the all too familiar veggies like cucumber, tomato, onion etc. Instead it was a delectable mix of unusual ingredients and flavours. The saltiness of the feta and the olives juxtaposing with the nutty, earthy and smoky flavours all tied down perfectly by a simple olive oil-honey dressing.

1

3

Recipe Courtesy – Vegetarian Cooking by New Holland Publishers

Ingredients:

1. Red capsicum/bell pepper – 1, quartered and seeded
2. Walnuts – 100 gm
3. Baby spinach – 200 gm
4. Greek feta – 200 gm, cubed
5. Artichoke hearts – 300 gm, quartered
6. Black olives – ½ cup, pitted
7. Olive oil – 1 tbsp
8. For dressing:
• Extra virgin olive oil – ½ cup
• Lemon juice – ¼ cup
• Honey – 2 tsp
• Oregano – 2 tsp
• Black pepper – freshly ground, to season
• Himalayan pink salt – to season (any type of salt can be used)

Method:

• Preheat grill. Grill the capsicum pieces till the outer skin starts to turn black. I did not char the skin completely since I wanted a little bit of bite to the pepper but if you like it soft, grill till the outer skin turns completely black. Cool slightly and peel skin when still warm. Cut into long strips and keep aside.
• In a frying pan, heat olive oil, add the walnuts and cook for a minute or two. Keep aside.
• In a small jar, combine all the ingredients under dressing and mix well.
• In a large salad bowl, combine the baby spinach, artichoke hearts, feta, olives, walnuts and bell pepper.
• Pour the dressing just before serving.

Note – If you do not know how to get artichoke hearts, there are plenty of YouTube videos demonstrating the same. Or you could just make your job easier and buy canned ones.

2

Insalata Caprese (Tomato Mozzarella Salad)

A simple Italian dish, Insalata Caprese (tomato mozzarella salad) is commonly served as an antipasto. But for me, this took the place of a simple salad which can be made in a jiffy.

It is important to have the freshest produce for this one since there are just two main ingredients – tomato and mozzarella. Pick up fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes and good quality mozzarella to make this salad. A dash of salt and pepper and a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil completes this beautiful salad.

tomato mozarella salad

Ingredients:

1. Vine-ripened tomatoes – 3, cubed
2. Mozzarella – 250 gm, cubed
3. Fresh basil – 5
4. Salt – to season
5. Black pepper – to season
6. Balsamic vinegar – 1 tsp
7. Olive oil – 1 tsp

Note – Use any type of tomatoes as long as it is fresh, ripe and sweet

Method:

• Add cubed tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to a salad bowl.
• In a small jar, mix balsamic vinegar and olive oil and drizzle over the salad.
• Season with salt and pepper just before serving.

tomato mozarella salad

Peanut Salad with Curry Leaf Dressing

We often look to the Western world for salads and salad dressing recipes in spite of having so many beautiful ingredients to work with in our country. And this point was driven home when I came across a simple salad dressing using curry leaves by Sonya Haritha. A shout-out to you Sonya for this wonderful recipe and also the major strides that you have achieved in the organic farming scene.

Instead of using this dressing for a vegetable salad (which I am sure will be spectacular), I decided to use it to dress up roasted peanuts. The warm freshness of the curry leaves, olive oil, lime and honey really makes this one a nutty treat!

So here’s the recipe for peanut salad with curry leaf dressing – simple, nutritious and packed with flavor.

peanut salad with curry leaf dressing

Ingredients:

1. Peanuts (roasted, unsalted) – 2 cups
2. Curry leaves – ½ cup, coarsely powdered
3. Jeera/cumin seeds – ½ tsp, roasted and crushed
4. Red chili flakes – a generous sprinkle
5. Lime juice – 1 tbsp
6. Honey – 1 tsp
7. Olive oil – 2-3 tbsp
8. Salt – to season

Method:

• Roast peanuts without salt and keep aside.
• Roast the cumin seeds and coarsely powder along with curry leaves.
• To this, add lemon juice, honey, red chili flakes, salt and olive oil. Mix or beat well to combine.
• Pour the dressing over the roasted peanuts and toss to combine just before serving.

Note – Omit the chilli flakes if too spicy for your children. You could also try out this dressing with other nuts or vegetables.

2

%d bloggers like this: