Monday, 22 April 2013

Warm Spiced Cashew Lentil Salad

Oh lentils, you are incredible. You're super-filling, delicious and oh-so-healthy - one cooked cup provides 18 grams of protein, 16 grams of fiber and 37% of my daily iron requirement. You're also amazingly versatile - you pair effortlessly with different vegetables, grains and sauces without either overpowering or disappearing among other tastes and textures. not-so-secret love.

This recipe is based on one I ripped out of a Vegetarian Times from 2012 featuring Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli-born British chef and restauranteur. The picture was of a beautiful platter full of lentils, cashews and greens topped with copious amounts of fresh herbs. Unfortunately (as per most of my scavenged recipes), I put it into my giant binder and promptly forgot about it for about eight months.

My version of this salad incorporates way more greens and a much lighter dressing. I've drastically reduced the amount of oil but kept all the fresh herbs and subbed in maple syrup for a touch of vegan sweetness.

This salad has such a wonderful, unexpected combination of flavours. Dill, parsley, basil, maple syrup, red pepper flakes and turmeric are not ingredients I'd normally consider pairing, but somehow it works. It may look complicated, but it comes together beautifully and is worth any extra effort.

I've divided the recipe into two parts: the spiced cashews and the lentil salad. The spiced cashews may seem a little frou-frou, but they add a great little crunch and the spicy red pepper flakes really round out the dish.

Warm Spiced Cashew Lentil Salad

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves 4-5

Spiced Cashew Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted cashews (whole or pieces)
1 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. water

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2. Combine maple syrup, pepper flakes, turmeric and salt in a small bowl
3. Add enough water to make a slightly runny sauce
4. Toss cashews in mixture & coat evenly
5. Spread cashews and sauce on a baking sheet with a silicone mat
6. Bake for 20 minutes, then allow cashew coating to cool on top of the stove

Lentil Salad Ingredients:

2 1/2-3 cups cooked green lentils*
1 cup spinach, chopped
1/2 cup swiss chard, chopped
1/2 cup fresh curly parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. maple syrup

*One cup dried lentils = approximately 3 cups cooked lentils*


1. Combine spinach, chard, parsley, basil and dill in a large serving bowl
2. Mix together olive oil, vinegar and maple syrup in a small glass
3. Add warm lentils and vinaigrette to serving bowl and toss to coat
4. Allow lentils to soften the greens for a few minutes, turning occasionally
5. Add cashews and toss one last time before serving*

*Don't add cashews too early; they will absorb the vinaigrette and lose their crunch. Alternatively, add cashews to individual servings and refrigerate leftover salad without nuts.*

Inspiration: April/May 2012