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