This lentil salad with fresh vegetables is a refreshing, summertime dish that you can enjoy either as a main course accompanied by cheese, or served as a side dish. This is a recipe you can prepare in advance and stored in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. It is quick and easy, in fact, it is not necessary to soak the lentils for several hours before cooking them. It is best served fresh, “just made”, at room temperature, but you can also refrigerate it and enjoy it cold the next day. This is a healthy lunch box to look forward to.
Surely this salad is healthy and nutritious. Lentils, in fact, like all legumes, are an important nutritional source of protein and carbohydrates (in the past they were known as “la carne dei poveri” (the meat of poor people), but they are also low in fat. Lentils have a marvellous nutritional profile: whilst 30% of its energy comes from protein, the remainder is primarily a high quality resistant starch, a carbohydrate which passes the length of the gastrointestinal tract and acts as dietary fibre. This type of starch is filling, reduces cholesterol, and increases fatty acid metabolism. It encourages healthy intestinal bacteria growth by providing butyrate as selective fuel. Such bacteria protect against cancers of the gastrointestinal tract as they have anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory effects. They are also rich in iron, potassium, phosphorus and iron.
Lentils are ancient legumes, consumed by the Egyptians and present in different quotations from the Bible. In the past, they were peasants’ food because of the high nutritional value and low cost. These tasty and versatile legumes, often found in vegetarian cuisine, are good in salads, soups and other recipes. Do not forget that lentils are a symbol of luck and wealth, therefore let’s eat them in abundance!
INSALATA DI LENTICCHIE (LENTIL SALAD)
280 g (10 oz) dry green lentils
1 bay leaf
300 g (11 oz) cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, diced
1 white onion, diced
1 medium pepper, diced
1 bunch of basil
4 tablespoons of olive oil (Extra Virgin)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Rinse the lentils under running water, put them in a pot with the bay leaf and plenty of water, bring to boil and cook on medium-low heat, covered with a lid, until they are crisp, about 18-20 minutes. A few minutes before they are done, add some salt. The cooking time should be indicated on the packaging. Drain and allow to cool. It is even better to soak the lentils in cold water overnight, then cook them as discribe above. The cooking time will be shorter (about 15 minutes)
3. While the lentils are cooking, cut the tomatoes in half, dice the cucumber. Mix together in a bowl and let stand for about 15 minutes at room temperature to remove the water
4. Drain the tomatoes and cucumber with a strainer. Cut the onion and pepper. In a large bowl mix all the vegetables
5. In a small bowl prepare the dressing with olive oil, salt and pepper
5. Add the lentils and some basil leaves to the vegetable mix, toss well with the dressing. Leave for 10-15 minutes and serve at room temperature. -Paola