When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Eat Well--Kale and Lentil Salad Bowls

Kale and Lentil Salad Bowls

By Kaitlin Mayhew, Legal Assistant, Smith Strong, PLC

This recipe is a version of a meal I make often. Whether it’s a weekend lunch or a hastily put together late night dinner, a salad made with a mix of raw vegetables, eggs and legumes or grains is a good “whatever’s in the fridge” meal.

In my case, I almost always have kale. I like the almost broccoli-like taste and find that it holds up best in most of my favorite recipes. If you prefer sweeter greens, a swiss chard or even spinach would work fine here, but wouldn’t have as much crunch.

**Note: Kale is broccoli-like because it’s actually from the same family: Brassica oleracea, which also includes cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

I also like lentils here because they are quick-cooking, and I try to avoid canned beans/legumes as much as possible. But a canned white bean like cannellini or navy would taste great if that’s what you happen to have.

A note about the “quick meal:” Although I love how quickly this meal can be thrown together, and can’t say I don’t take shortcuts sometimes, I do feel that properly prepared food usually takes a little time and some forethought.

Grains and legumes (like the rice and lentils used in this recipe) are traditionally prepared by ancient cultures by soaking or fermenting first, cooking second. This step has been lost on most modern cooks, but the benefits are well worth the time spent. First, soaking/sprouting/fermenting makes the grains and legumes more easily digestible by removing the inflammation-causing phytate. Essentially, soaking tricks the seed (which is really what a grain or legume is) into thinking it’s been planted, so it lets down its protective shield. The goal of a seed is to be planted, so it is designed to be able to work its way through the digestive system of a bird or animal that happened to eat it and come out the other end unharmed, more likely fertilized and ready to grow. This tough seed can wreak havoc on a digestive system, particularly a sensitive one.

Soaking/sprouting also increases the bioavailability of the vitamins and nutrients present in the seeds, so they are a healthier food source.

The recipe:

(Feeds 3-4)

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale

1 cup lentils (any variety)

1 cup Basmati rice

eggs (one per person)

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs lemon juice

1 clove garlic

1 tbs crushed red pepper or Aleppo pepper

Method:

1. Soak Basmati rice and lentils in separate containers of water for at least four hours. I sometimes add a little teaspoon of vinegar to the water as well.

2. Drain rice and lentils.

3. Add rice to a small pot with a cup and a half of water. Bring water to boil, stir once, then cover and simmer for 15-20 mins.

4. Add lentils to a small pot with water to cover by about an inch. Bring water to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until tender.

5. Chop kale and place in large salad bowl.

6. Mince garlic.

7. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the greens and add garlic and crushed red pepper.

8. Massage ingredients into kale until completely covered. You can do this with utensils, but it works best to use your hands, just don’t touch your eyes afterwards!

9. Add salt and pepper to kale salad and let sit until rice and lentils finish cooking.

10. Strain lentils in a colander and run cold water over them.

11. Add to kale and toss.

12. Prepare eggs by poaching or frying. Make one per person.

13. Serve with rice on the bottom, kale salad and egg on top.

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