Emerald Lentil Salad
Yield: 4 servings
A palette of greens adds interest to this hearty, wholesome, plant-based salad, which is well suited to meal planning, potlucks, and taking to a friend in need. I appreciate how the truly simple and nutrient-dense ingredients deliver outstanding flavor and keep me full for hours.


For the salad:

  • ¾ cup (143g) green lentils (I like Le Puy or French green lentils for this, but regular brown or green will work)
  • 1 pound bite-size broccoli florets (about 6 cups; from 2 medium or 3 smaller heads)
  • 1½ – 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided use, and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • ⅓ cup salted pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup lightly packed microgreens (could sub a large handful or two of arugula or another green of choice)

For the vinaigrette:

  • ¼ cup (56ml) olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (I use Morton’s)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground fresh black pepper

Instructions:

  1. For the lentils: Place the lentils and 5 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the lentils are just tender but not at all mushy, approximately 15-20 minutes. (Helpful hint: Start checking for doneness after 11-12 minutes so as not to overcook. Cooking time will vary based on precise level of heat and age of lentils.) Drain well, toss with ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and set aside. (Note: You may let the lentils cool and serve this salad at room temperature or enjoy it warm.)
  2. For the broccoli: Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, toss the broccoli with the oil until evenly coated. Sprinkle evenly with ½ teaspoon salt and several turns of the pepper mill and toss again. (Tip: For one less bowl to wash, I often add the broccoli to a large produce bag and shake to coat with the oil and seasonings. Make sure the bag doesn’t have holes because you need to be able to fill it with air to give the florets room to move.) Transfer the broccoli to a large, rimmed baking sheet (no need to grease) and spread into an even layer.
  3. Place the baking sheet on the top rack of the oven (about 5 inches from the top element), and roast until starting to brown in spots and the stems are crisp-tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 10 minutes. Check a minute or two early, and if the broccoli is sufficiently charred but the stems are not tender, place the sheet on the middle rack to finish cooking.
  4. For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. You can also put them in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well. Make ahead tip: The dressing can be made in advance and stored at room temperature for up to 2 hours or refrigerated for a week or more. Whisk or shake to re-emulsify before using.
  5. Make the salad: In a mixing bowl, place the drained lentils, roasted broccoli, avocado, and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with the vinaigrette; I start with about ¾ of it, toss the salad, and then add more to taste. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve garnished with the microgreens or toss in greens of choice.
  6. Storage: Covered and refrigerated, the salad will keep up to 5 days. If expecting leftovers (or planning for them – this recipe is great for meal prep), I often add the avocado and pepitas as a topping. Leftover vinaigrette will maintain freshness for a week or more. 

Notes

Mix it up:
Other green options include baby spinach, spring mix, shredded kale, collards, or Swiss chard. I add a large handful (or two or three – a handful being the equivalent of one cup or one ounce), depending on the ratio of lentils to greens I’m in the mood for.

For additional protein, stir in leftover salmon, flaked into chunks (or smoked or canned salmon), cubed tofu, or cooked chicken. Sardine fans may enjoy adding a tin or two of drained sardines, broken into chunks.

For another layer of flavor (if vegan and dairy-free are not a concern), tangy, salty feta cheese complements this salad nicely.

Helpful hints
• To make sure the broccoli cooks quickly, make sure the florets are truly bite size. I also slice through any thick stem pieces so the stems are not too firm at the end of the 10 minutes. Depending on oven, or if you’d like a little more crispy char on the crowns, feel free to add a few minutes to the cook time.
• To prevent the broccoli from steaming and allow the edges to brown or char slightly, make sure the florets are very dry before tossing with the oil, salt, and pepper.


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