lentil, leaf & labneh lunch salad

This is my new favourite lunch salad: red and bitter Italian salad leaves like dark red radicchio and treviso, purple radish sprouts and pinks radishes, leftover red lentil tikka masala and the whole dish is finally crowned with some of the labneh you might have made the week before. This cool and creamy yoghurt cheese provides a nice balance to the quite spicy lentil dish and frankly, the colour combinations are amazing. Why is this a superfood salad? Red salad leaves are high in phytonutrients (Splendid table podcast: Wild food), red, orange & yellow foods come with their own backpack of extra benefits, just as pulses are good to add to anyone’s diet.Most of my lunch salads contain some kind of seed, grain or pulse. I absolutely adore the texture and taste that is added hereby to any salad and makes me feel even more virtuous, healthy and smug. You can prepare red or puy lentils, chickpeas, couscous, pumpkin seeds, wild rice or the nutty tasting Grünkern (half ripe & kilned spelt, a speciality of Baden, southern Germany) on the weekend or cook some more for dinner and stow away the rest in the fridge for lunch.To actually find red lentil tikka masala leftovers in your fridge, I took the liberty of adding the recipe below. It is a version of something one might eat on a 5:2 day. As a full dinner, we add steamed brokkoli, snow peas or some baby spinach. Perfect with or without rice, naan, roti.

Orange-red superfood salad with labneh & the night before’s lentil tikka masala
Lunch for one

Radicchio or treviso salad leaves
radish sprouts
radishes, sliced
¼ red onion, chopped
about 3 tablespoons leftover lentil tikka masala
1 ball of labneh or a small round of goats cheese
dijon mustard & nut oil vinaigrette

Make a vinaigrette out of 1 teaspoon coarse Dijon and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, add salt & pepper, 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 6 tablespoons of nut (hazelnut/walnut) oil. You can keep the rest for the next days in the fridge.

Arrange salad ingredients on your plate, spoon the leftover tikka over the top and crown with a ball of labneh or goats cheese. Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad.

Quick red lentil tikka masala
makes about 2 portions, 4 if you add the extra vegetables
2 teaspoons sunflower or groundnut oil
2 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
3 carrots, finely chopped chopped
2 tablespoons masala paste (bought or homemade)
1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
250ml (1 cup) vegetable stock
200g (1 cup or 7 oz) red lentils, washed
3 carrots, cut in discs
1 red paprika, finely chopped

Fry the onions and pepper in the oil for about 4 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and carrot and cook for another minute. Spoon in the masala paste and fry until fragrant, then add the tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Add the red lentils and cook for about 10 minutes testing regularly – there should be still a little bite in them.

Masala paste

2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted & ground
1 teaspoon coriander seed, toasted & ground
3 cm ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
3 tablespoons tomato puree
salt & pepper
one handful of fresh coriander

Blend all ingredients in a food processor to a fragrant & spicy paste. Keep the rest in a jar in the fridge for further use, ours was fine for about 1 or 2 weeks.

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