Gingered Lentil Quinoa Salad


Gingered Lentil Quinoa Salad

Gingered Lentil Quinoa Salad is a healthy, tasty salad of lentils, quinoa and asparagus flavored with freshly grated ginger, olive oil and pomegranate red wine vinegar. Toasted pine nuts are sprinkled on top of the finished salad. The original recipe called for mint leaves. I like mint but I also like basil, both of which are growing on our deck. I decided to divide the recipe in half and to add mint leaves to one half and basil leaves to the other half to see which one I liked best. It turns out that I happen to like both mint and basil versions of this fresh salad recipe! So follow your gut on this one – pun intended!

I would recommend using the blender to prepare this salad dressing to finely distribute the grated ginger – a wire whisk just doesn’t do this very well. Another recommendation is to use any nuts you would like in this recipe as pine nuts, which are specified, have become expensive. Walnuts would probably add some great flavor as well as crunchiness.

Gingered Lentil Quinoa Salad Recipe

Gingered Lentil Quinoa Salad
Serves 8
A tasty, healthy salad of lentils, quinoa, and asparagus flavored with ginger, olive oil and pomegranate red wine vinegar.
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  1. 1 quart water
  2. 3/4 cup dried green lentils, rinsed
  3. 1/2 cup dried quinoa
  4. 4 ounces fresh asparagus tips cut into 1-inch pieces
  5. 1/2 cup olive oil
  6. 1/4 cup pomegranate red wine vinegar
  7. 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  8. 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  9. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  10. 1/4 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
  11. 1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  12. 2 ounces pine nuts, toasted
  13. 6 cups mixed salad greens
  1. Bring water to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add lentils, reduce heat, cover and simmer 17 minutes.
  2. Add quinoa, cover and cook 7 minutes.
  3. Add asparagus and cook 2 minutes or until asparagus is tender crisp.
  4. Drain and run under cold water to cool.
  5. Shake off excess water.
  6. Meanwhile, combine oil, vinegar, ginger, salt, black pepper and pepper flakes in a medium bowl.
  7. Add the lentil mixture, mint and pine nuts to the oil mixture and toss, until well coated.
  8. Serve over salad greens.
  1. Chopped fresh basil leaves works well in this salad in place of the mint leaves for a different twist on the original!
Adapted from Pompeian
Adapted from Pompeian

Exquisite Ginger

Ginger is one of my favorite spices! Some people call it gingerroot. When fresh it’s gnarly so it needs to be peeled before using. (Ginger is technically a rhizome of the ginger plant.) Ginger is aromatic, pungent and sweet with a touch of musty/earthy undertones. Ginger is considered by many to be an aid to digestion – remember drinking a gingerale when your tummy was upset? Our fall-winter holiday season wouldn’t be the same without gingerbread and the many items that ginger lends its flavor to, such as pumpkin pie.

For those over 60 with a diminished sense of taste, spices are important to add to food to give it more taste. Spices are what I refer to as “flavor intensifiers” and add another layer of flavor to our food.

A Little About Lentils

Lentils are legumes which are related to beans and peanuts. They are technically seeds that are harvested from pods. Lentils can add a great deal of color to a dish as they come in a variety of colors – tan, green, red, orange, golden and black. Unlike dried beans, lentils do not require pre-soaking overnight before cooking. Be sure to rinse them and inspect them for any debris that may have gotten mixed in with the lentils. Lentils have the capability of absorbing flavors with which they are combined. Used all over the world, lentils are high in fiber, iron and Vitamin B12 and may help lower cholesterol. Lentils are often used as meat substitutes due to their protein content.

Versatile Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain grown for its edible seeds. Containing essential amino acids, quinoa also is high in fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron and B vitamins. Quinoa is gluten-free and may be cooked and used just like rice. Quinoa has a low glycemic index and contains minerals and antioxidants. Quinoa imparts a mild, nutty flavor to dishes in which it is an ingredient.

Parting Comments

What a great salad with so many healthy ingredients!

Add your own individual touch to this salad by including your favorite ingredients to the mix!

Remember to Savor the Flavor!


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Eggplant Parmesan – A Healthier Version

Healthier Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is a popular Italian dish in which slices of eggplant are typically dipped in egg, rolled in bread crumbs and fried in oil, before being combined with tomato sauce, spices, and cheeses, then baked. In this recipe for Healthier Eggplant Parmesan, slices of eggplant are dipped in milk, then rolled in a mixture of bread crumbs and wheat germ, combined with tomato sauce and cheeses, then baked. The wheat germ has a somewhat nutty taste which enhances the flavor of the bread crumbs.

Eggplant has a spongy texture which is absorbent and when fried eggplant soaks up a lot of oil. When eggplant slices are baked instead of fried, Eggplant Parmesan becomes lighter as well as lower in fat.

In many recipes, eggplant fulfils the role of being a complementary ingredient that balances the surrounding flavors of the more pronounced ingredients. Eggplant holds an esteemed place in the cuisines of Italy, Greece, Turkey and France.

Some Eggplant Facts

Eggplant is called “aubergine” in France and in British English. Eggplants are the edible fruit of the Nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, sweet potatoes and potatoes. It has long been prized for its deeply purple, glossy beauty and its unique taste and texture. Eggplants are available in markets year round but are best from August through October when they are “in season.” Eggplant is available in several colors and sizes in addition to the traditional purple variety. Leading growers of eggplant include Italy, Turkey, Egypt, China and Japan. 

Eggplant offers some good nutrition, too. One cup of eggplant contains only 35 calories and they have a low glycemic index. Phytonutrients, many of which have anti-oxidant activity, are found in eggplant. Also found in eggplant are dietary fiber, vitamin B-1, vitamin B-6, copper, manganese, niacin, potassium, folate and vitamin K.

Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be smooth and shiny, and their color vivid. Eggplant should be free of discoloration, scars and bruises, which usually indicate the flesh beneath has become damaged or possibly decayed.

To test for ripeness, gently press the skin with your thumb. If it springs back, the eggplant is ripe, if an indentation remains, it is not. Eggplants are very perishable and should be stored with care. Don’t cut eggplant until you’re ready to use it. Store in the refrigerator. Wash eggplant before using and cut off the ends. Eggplant can be eaten with or without the skin. If the skin is tough, as is sometimes the case with a large eggplant or one of the white variety, peel the skin before cutting the eggplant.

The Recipe for Healthier Eggplant Parmesan

Healthier Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 8
A lighter, healthier version of traditional Eggplant Parmesan which features baked eggplant slices instead of fried.
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  1. 1 large eggplant
  2. 3/4 cup milk
  3. 2 cups fine bread crumbs or wheat germ or a combination of the two
  4. 1 teaspoon basil
  5. 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  6. 48 oz. bottled Spaghetti Sauce (or use your own Italian Tomato Sauce)
  7. 1 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
  8. 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  9. 16 oz. Ricotta cheese (whole or part-skim milk)
  10. 1 egg
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Oil two baking pans or use pan spray.
  2. Slice eggplant into 1/2" thick slices. Place the milk in a shallow bowl. Combine bread crumbs and wheat germ (if using), basil and Italian seasoning. Dip each eggplant slice into the milk, then roll in the crumbs. Spread the coated slices of eggplant on the baking pans and bake until tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Use pan spray or oil a 9" x 13" pan. Ladle some spaghetti or tomato sauce into the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add a layer of eggplant slices and cover with more sauce. Sprinkle some mozzarella over the sauce, then repeat the with a layer of eggplant slices and tomato sauce.
  5. In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese and egg. Spread mixture on top of tomato sauce. Sprinkle on remaining mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  1. Fresh basil may be added to the topping mixture and/or the crumb mixture for additional flavor.

 I hope you enjoy this healthier version of Eggplant Parmesan! Make some soon for your family!

Remember to Savor the Flavor!


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