Spicy Lentil Salad

by Valerie on January 5, 2013 · 4 comments

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Happy Friday! This was the longest short work week I have ever had. I am off to spend some time thinking about 2013 – oh, and rewatching the last couple episodes of Downton Abbey Season 2, seeing as Season 3 starts airing on Sundays here in the U.S. Of course, I have read episode recaps in the British media, because I have no self-control that way.

First though, I wanted to leave you with this recipe for a bracing spicy lentil salad.  I discovered this flavor combination by accident a couple of weeks ago, when I added some lentils atop a big bowl of Romaine Kale Salad – I tend to eat that salad with grilled tempeh usually, but the lentils paired beautifully with the salad.  That got me thinking about making a lentil salad with similar flavors, but recalibrating the garlic flavor. 

Enter this spicy lentil salad.  If you do not like raw onions, you will not like this recipe. If you do, like me, get inexplicable cravings for spicy onion-y dishes in cold weather (I made Romaine Kale Salad three times in a week, during one of last year’s cold snaps), or anytime, then I think you will enjoy this recipe.  I used lentils from truRoots – I love their products, though I always mean to check up on what they truly mean by gluten-free.  Since the term gluten-free is not regulated, that is generally a good practice to do.  That said, I rarely buy their products as they are pricy for dried legumes, so  usually buy only the large bags at Costco, and invariably forget to check on their status. Some of it is that I trust the brand, and have seen other gluten-free bloggers use it with no issues, but really, that is no excuse. Note to self to look into this (by the way, with a Target within a mile, Costco is no longer as useful as it used to be, so that our membership keeps lapsing, but that’s another story for another day).  Whole Foods had some truRoots on sale recently, though, so I picked up a bag of these lentils, as well as a bag of mung beans.   And, yes, I know a big part of the reason that truRoots is pricy for dried legumes is that truRoots  sprouts all its products.  I know that sprouted legumes are supposed to be that much better for you (more easily digested, easier to assimilate nutrition), but what I really love about truRoots in general, and these lentils is not that the sprouted element, but just that they are so good and cook up in no time.

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My approach to dried legumes, by the way, is to never, ever buy them from bulk bins, which are rife with gluten cross-contamination.  So I buy packets – depending on the brand that can be 10oz, or 16oz.  That also ties into another part of my approach, which is that whether a package is 10oz or 16oz, I usually cook up the whole thing (and if I have a 5 pound bag, I usually cook up a pound at a time). Depending on the legume and the package size, that yields anywhere from 4 to 7 cups. Some I season immediately, some gets used in a specific recipe, some is used as a quick salad topping, and some gets frozen. It does not take much longer to cook the whole package as opposed to just a cup (and you can use a rice cooker too or, if you have one, a slow cooker, though for sprouted legumes, I just use a saucepan).  You are welcome to use any other dried lentils – green or brown – for this recipe, as long as you use two cups cooked lentils, or canned lentils.  Be sure to warm the lentils before stirring into the salad. It helps the dressing absorb better.

Spicy Lentil Kale Salad (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Nut-free)
Serves two generously when combined with some salad greens, or four as a side dish or part of a meal.

I used a yellow onion, as I did not have red onion and was not about to go outside (see, above, cold weather).  The cayenne is from Spicely,.  Lately, as my spices are running out, I have been working on switching all my spices over to Spicely, as they are certified gluten-free. Amazon has a great Spicely selection.  A note on the liquid aminos – this gluten-free soy-based sauce tastes a lot like tamari, though nevertheless has a fairly distinctive taste compared to tamari. You can absolutely substitute tamari, but the salad will taste slightly different. For a soy-free version, I did try using coconut aminos, but I did not like the flavor combination, probably because coconut aminos are a bit sweet and this salad is more about spicy and savory.  Feel free to experiment though.  Finally, using warm lentils means the dressing gets absorbed better. I made this salad right after cooking up the above package of lentils – I just measured out two cups for the salad, and stored the remaining amount plain.  If you use canned lentils, be sure to slightly warm them before, whether by steaming them briefly or using the microwave.

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast ( I like this one)
  • 3 tablespoons liquid aminos
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 1/2 cup finely chopped red or yellow onion (about one medium to large onion.  You can make this salad with just 1 cup of onion for a slightly less strong flavor.  Use yellow onion if you would like a stronger flavor)
  • 2 garlic cloves,  very finely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils (or 1 15oz can of lentils, drained and rinsed), warm
  • chopped parsley or scallions, for garnish
  • Combine nutritional yeast, liquid aminos and cayenne in a large bowl.  Add chopped onion and garlic and stir well.  Add lentils, combined well and allow bowl to cool to room temperature and flavors to marry.  Garnish with parsley or scallions and serve alongside or atop salad greens and perhaps some quinoa or a baked sweet potato. I particularly like a sweet potato as a side to this dish as it tempers the bracing, spicy quality of the salad.

    I am submitting this recipe to Wellness Weekend at Diet, Dessert and Dogs, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Healthy Vegan Friday at Veggie Nook, and Gluten-Free Wednesday at Gluten-Free Homemaker.

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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Kathy January 5, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Wow..this sounds and looks so great! I want to thank you for sharing your knowledge about so many things that are so helpful to me, especially about the bulk bins being containated with gluten,I was thinking I’d like to purchase from the bins to save $. I can not ingest any gluten at all and I had real fear about whether it was worth the risk? Thank you for sharing they are highly contaminated.I will look for the brand of lentil’s you are using, they seem perfect! You made me smile when you mentioned Downton Abby, I have been getting caught up as well. I have so enjoyed your last posts, but been unable to comment, I want to thank you for all you share and for your blog, I enjoy it is so much. Happy new year and thank you!

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    2 janet @ the taste space January 11, 2013 at 3:25 am

    I just discovered truroots as well. I like the sprouted mung beans so far. The quinoa + brown rice blend is a bit mushy for my liking but maybe I haven’t figured out the best way to cook it properly? Always love lentil salads! :)

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    3 Debby Sunshine January 14, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I never knew if you were supposed to cook the sprouted lentils and beans or if you are supposed to eat them raw. Do you know what raw foodists do with their sprouted lentils? Your lentil salad looks really great. I like onions in my salad too.

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