Wheatless Wednesday – Warm Scallop Salad with Lentils and Frisee

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I love Autumn salads which are a bit heartier than those we enjoy in summer.  With the advent of chilly evenings, we need more tummy-filling ingredients to keep us warm and satisfied.  It also helps that bikinis are soon to become a distant memory (unless you’re going on a tropical vacation).  I really like adding either grains or legumes to salads, especially if they are the main course and French green lentils are a favorite.  In creating this salad, I started with a bed of frisee which adds texture and interest, then a layer of French green lentils, tomatoes and oranges topped with warm seared scallops.  A final drizzle of mustard vinaigrette completes the dish. To make this dish vegan, substitute sliced hearts of palm instead of scallops. I don’t know how hearts of palm are when seared, so would recommend using them raw unless you are up for a challenge. It could be worth a try, though.  They sure worked well as a meat alternative in my Pulled ‘Pork’ Sliders. I may have to try…

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Frisee is an under-appreciated green, at least in the Univted States.  Frisee, also called curly endive, is part of the chicory family, along with Belgian endive, radicchio, and escarole.  Frisee is packed with nutrients, and very low in calories like most greens. It is an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin C, with approximately one third the daily recommended amount of each, in a single serving. It is also a good source of vitamin K, and manganese. It’s slightly bitter and nutty flavor makes it a nice addition to salads but it works best mixed with milder greens or with complementary flavors like sweet citrus, earthy lentils and a tangy vinaigrette.

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I often use French green lentils (De Puy) which I think are the most flavorful and they keep their shape when cooked, unlike red lentils which are soft and split open, making them perfect for soups and stews.  Brown lentils, which are the most commonly available, can be substituted.  Just be careful not to overcook as they also can become too soft.  Lentils not only delicious, they are high in protein, low in fat and are a good source of fiber and vitamins and minerals, including iron.

TIPS: When purchasing scallops, try to buy dry sea scallops.  Scallops are often labelled ‘dry’ or ‘wet’.  If they aren’t labelled, ask. ‘Wet’ scallops are treated with a solution called STP (sodium tripolyphosphate), which helps the scallops maintain their moisture. The STP solution gives scallops a longer shelf life and keeps them plump and fresh looking. As a result, you’ll not only pay for the added water weight (meaning you get fewer scallops per pound and possibly scallops that are less than fresh)  In addition, you’ll also have trouble browning these scallops—no matter how hot your pan—because of all that excess moisture. If you have had trouble browning scallops in the past, this could be the reason. You will still rinse and dry your scallops which shouldn’t effect the browning as long you dry them well with paper towels.

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WARM SCALLOP SALAD WITH LENTILS AND FRISEE

1 lb large sea scallops
1/2 cup French green lentils
2 ripe tomatoes
1 orange
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 head frisee
2 Tbsn olive oil
salt

VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper

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  • Cook lentils as directed but don’t over cook.  They should be al dente.  Pour off any excess water, remove from heat and set aside to cool with lid off.

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  • Slice tomatoes into wedges.  Peel oranges and slice into rounds and then halves.

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  • Pull frisee apart and place in one a large platter or bowl.

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  • Spread cooled lentils over frisee.

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  • Top with tomatoes, orange slices and scallions.

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  • Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

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  • Rinse and dry scallops. Heat olive oil over medium high heat until the pan is very hot. Arrange scallops in a single layer, uncrowded.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and flip to cook the other side for another 1 1/2 minutes.

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  • Remove from heat and place on top of salad. Sprinkle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

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Warm Scallop Salad with Lentils and Frisee

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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 1 lb large sea scallops
1/2 cup French green lentils
2 ripe tomatoes
1 orange
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 head frisee
2 Tbsn olive oil
salt

VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper

  • Cook lentils as directed but don’t over cook.  They should be al dente.  Pour off any excess water, remove from heat and set aside to cool with lid off.
  • Slice tomatoes into wedges.  Peel oranges and slice into rounds and then halves.
  • Pull frisee apart and place in one a large platter or bowl.
  • Spread cooled lentils over frisee.
  • Top with tomatoes, orange slices and scallions.
  • Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Rinse and dry scallops. Heat olive oil over medium high heat until the pan is very hot. Arrange scallops in a single layer, uncrowded.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and flip to cook the other side for another 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and place on top of salad.
  • Sprinkle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

 

Meatless Monday – Kale Salad with Lentils and Wild Rice

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This one is for you, Margie!  My sister, Margaret, asked me to come up with a new lentil salad recipe, so here you go!  Thank you for the inspiration –  this one is a keeper!  Lentils and rice are one of my favorite food combinations but they can be heavy which makes them a perfect belly warming winter meal but luckily those cold winter months are behind us.  I decided to lighten them up for summer by tossing French green lentils in a salad with chewy wild rice, toasted pine nuts, tomatoes and kale. Top with scallions, fresh herbs, crumbled feta and a drizzle of lemony vinaigrette for a really delicious and satisfying salad.

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Lentils come in a rainbow of colors, each with their own characteristics.  In general, the darker the lentil, the firmer the texture.  Lighter colored lentils, like yellow and red, are quite mushy when cooked and best for soups.  Brown lentils have a nice flavor but can get mushy if cooked too long.  French green lentils (pictured above) are my favorite but closely followed by Black Beluga lentils which I often use with colorful squashes because of the striking color contrast.  If you don’t normally eat lentils, here are Five Reasons why you should start:

  1. PROTECT YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM – high in fiber
  2. PROTECT YOUR HEART – significant amount of folate and magnesium
  3. STABILIZE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR – full of complex carbohydrates
  4. HIGH IN PROTEIN- the vegetable with the highest level of protein other than soybeans
  5. IMPORTANT MINERALS AND ANTIOXIDANTS –   good source of iron, magnesium and zinc

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Wild rice is actually not really rice. It’s the seed of the water grass, Zizania.  It has a wonderful chewy texture and nutty flavor that is really good in this salad, however it packs it’s own nutritional whollop.  Wild rice is also a good source of protein, fiber, iron and copper as well as other minerals and vitamins including B complex.  Together, they make this meal hearty enough to be a main course.

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Should we even talk about kale?  We all know it’s the reigning queen of leafy greens for it’s nutritional benefits, and rightly so. I used a bunch of red kale from my CSA box but lacinato (dino) or curly kale will work well too.  Since kale is so fibrous, I removed the center rib and sliced the leafy green leaves into thin julienne strips.  This preparation makes it easier to eat and allows the flavors to blend more easily since all the other ingredients are so small.  I learned one unexpected benefit of using kale in salads instead of more traditional lettuces.  I had some leftover salad which I stored in the refrigerator.  Well you know what happens to salads that have already been dressed that sit in the refrigerator overnight… Two days later, I remembered the salad and went to throw it away but it still looked okay.  I ate it for lunch and it was still surprisingly good.  The kale held up really well.  Who knew?

TIPS:  I used two Roma tomatoes for this salad because they are easier to dice and have fewer juices and seeds than the larger Beefsteak or Celbrity types, however, any ripe tomato will work.  If you aren’t a fan of wild rice, you can use a wild rice mix or substitute any kind of rice you like.  A long grain rice cooked al dente will give better results than the stickier shorter grains.

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Kale Salad with Lentils and Wild Rice

1/2 cup dry wild rice
1/2 cup dry lentils (green, black or brown)
1 large or 2 smaller tomatoes, finely diced
2 cups kale, thinly sliced
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional)

VINAIGRETTE

¼ cup Olive Oil
1 Tbsn lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

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  • Cook the wild rice according to package instructions (about 45 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool, uncovered.

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  • Cook the lentils according to package instructions but make sure they don’t get too soft.  They should be firm enough to maintain their shape.  Remove from heat and let cool, uncovered.

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  • Toast pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat until golden brown.  Remove from heat and let cool

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  • Wash kale and remove the thick center rib.  Stack kale and slice thinly crosswise.  Place in a large serving bowl
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  • Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

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  • Transfer wild rice, lentils, pine nuts and cilantro to bowl with kale. (Wild rice and lentils can be slightly warm but not hot)

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  • Just before serving,  toss with vinaigrette.  Serve with crumbled feta or goat cheese, if desired.

Kale Salad with Lentils and Wild Rice

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1/2 cup dry wild rice
1/2 cup dry lentils (green, black or brown)
1 large or 2 smaller tomatoes, finely diced
2 cups kale, thinly sliced
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional)

VINAIGRETTE

¼ cup Olive Oil
1 Tbsn lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

  • Cook the wild rice according to package instructions (about 45 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool, uncovered.
  • Cook the lentils according to package instructions but make sure they don’t get too soft.  They should be firm enough to maintain their shape.  Remove from heat and let cool, uncovered.
  • Toast pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat until golden brown.  Remove from heat and let cool
  • Wash kale and remove the thick center rib.  Stack kale and slice thinly crosswise.  Place in a large serving bowl.
  • Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.
  • Transfer wild rice, lentils, pine nuts and cilantro to bowl with kale. (Wild rice and lentils can be slightly warm but not hot)
  • Just before serving,  toss with vinaigrette.  Serve with crumbled feta or goat cheese, if desired.