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.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

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Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing & Pear and Cambozola Salad

When I was a kid, my Mom used to roast acorn squash with butter and brown sugar.  My favorite part was the little pool of melted brown sugar and butter that would form in the hollow. Yum!  This is a more grown up version, suitable as a vegan main course.  It kind of reminds me of a Thanksgiving stuffing but without the turkey.  This dish is very impressive looking and is great for dinner parties or as a holiday centerpiece.  It has that perfect salty, sweet combination and the toasted pecans give it a satisfying ‘meatiness’.  I love the natural heart shape.  It would be a great Valentine’s Day dish!  Vegans should omit the Campozola or replace it with sliced avocado or vegan cheese.  Serves 4-6 (Makes enough stuffing to fill 2 large or 3 small squash)

Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

Ingredients:

½  cup dried brown rice
¼ cup dried wild rice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup fresh brown mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
2 acorn squash
1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup or brown sugar
1 -2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
¼ cup dried currants (or unsweetened dried cranberries)
¼  tsp salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ cup pecans

  • Cook the brown and wild rice together with vegetable broth.
  • Heat the oven to 400° and place a rack in the middle position.
  • Cut squash in half with a sharp knife and remove the seeds. Use a dry paper towel to get the rest of the stringy bits.
  • Place the squash, cut side up, on a baking sheet, and brush olive oil on the tops and insides of the squash halves. Brush maple syrup (or sprinkle with brown sugar) on the tops and insides as well, and season with salt and fresh pepper. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, until you can pierce it with a fork but not yet soft.

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  • Toast the pecans in a dry pan for a few minutes, until they become aromatic and start turning brown.(You can also toss them first in melted butter or coconut spread for an even more delicious taste).  Let cool.
  • Saute the onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot until soft.  Add fresh mushrooms, if using, and cook another couple of minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the cooked rice, pecans, and currants. Add salt and fresh pepper to taste.
  • Scoop one quarter of the rice filling into each of the roasted squash halves. It’s a bit messy, so I found it easier to move the squash to a plate for filling and then put it back into the pan.

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  • Continue roasting the squash for 20 to 30 minutes more. It should be completely tender and the stuffing hot. You should hear it sizzling.
  • Serve warm.

Pear and Cheese

Pear and Cambozola Salad

1-2  d’Anjou or Bosc pears

8 red globe grapes

1 wedge Cambazola Blue cheese (camembert or brie work well too)

2-3 cups mache or mixed salad greens

Vinaigrette (2 Tbsn olive or avocado oil, 1 Tbsn red wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard, dash salt and pepper)

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  • Cut pears in half lengthwise, core using a melon baller and thinly slice lengthwise.(Easiest done with cut side down)
  • Slice grapes
  • Cut 4 thick slices of cambazola
  • Wash and dry greens and toss in vinaigrette.
  • Place ¼ of the greens on a salad plate and arrange ¼ of the pear slices, grapes and 1 slice cambozola on top for each serving.

Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing