Lentil Salad For Monkeys

lentil heart 2

Lentils. cooked from dry these little nutritional powerhouses make a great base for a salad. but if you are stuck for time you can also buy in a can. it will not give the same kid friendly texture but will be good all the same. Legumes in general to be honest I generally do buy in a can (the no salt added variety) and when they happen to be available, without BPA in the lining of the can, but not always since, what he says. But lentils, I like to cook from dry, I have more control over the texture
and flavour.

Kids do not always like the texture or visual appeal of traditional brown, green or french lentils.  what kids do tend to like is starchy bread like food. Don’t we all? But as much as I would happily live off good bread, I do not think my body would appreciate that very much.

This salad when made with well cooked red lentils  the lentils become like a grain, almost creamy like an oatmeal. I have fed this to adults who did not realize it was lentil. My kids have been eating this summer salad since I first discovered its deliciousness (made with true dairy feta at the time) in may 2012, I made this regularly because it’s a hit with the kids and is refreshing on a hot summer day. I have adapted the recipe over time and this is my “perfected” version. This salad gives nicely to switching up or leaving out some of the veggies depending on what is available.  It is perfect for a  quick and dirty I forgot to make dinner meal.

Why for monkeys? My children are active monkeys that is why. They climb EVERYTHING and they are in constant motion. All this motion requires good nutrition. This protein packed meal is perfect for meeting those needs.

Feta:
The vegan feta cheese for this recipe is delicious, not quite as salty and creamy as traditional feta but it works for me and has fooled many a cheese eater. You can buy vegan feta, though it is hard to find and this is just so easy. Of course you can also make this recipe with real feta (it’s also very good with goat cheese). Pressing tofu: I am too lazy to invest time or money pressing tofu usually. but for this recipe I want the tofu to absorb its marinade so I do the bare minimum, wrap my tofu in paper towels and a cloth towel and use my body weight to squish out some moisture both before and after cutting it. (clearly, if you eat dairy you can use the real stuff)

Tofu Feta:

1/2 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegartofu feta
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 pkg extra firm or firm tofu (I prefer to use Liberte brand tofu for this recipe, its a texture thing)

Method:

Press and cut the tofu (or just simply crumble it) into small pieces leave on cutting board while you prepare marinade.

In a good-sized bowl (preferably one with a lid to minimize dishes) Mix everything but tofu and give it a good whisk. carefully add the tofu, cover and allow to marinate at least an hour. I leave out for an hour and then put in fridge, I feel this somehow is more cheese like. I have no idea if any actual food chemistry occurs in this time on counter that would not in the fridge. I do know the feta tastes better the next day and that I have fooled cheese eaters with this one. add more salt to mimic those great salty feta’s.

NOTES: If this is too acidic to your taste, increase the olive oil up to 1/4 cup. I find the olive oil solidifies when the marinade is refrigerated so once the flavour i want is achieved I usually take this out of its marinade and store in an airtight container in fridge. it lasts about a week.

Lentil Veggie Salad.ingredients

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked red lentils (or 1 19oz can lentils)
1 stalk celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup english cucumber, diced
2-3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup cauliflower florets
1/4 cup parboiled broccoli florets
1/2 cup vegan feta, crumbled (although you can buy this, I make it)

Dressing:
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Method:

Whisk dressing ingredients in a bowl, add all salad ingredients and stir well to coat in dressing.

lentil salad

Make Ahead: all or part of this recipe can be made ahead and kept in fridge for up to a week. I usually make the lentils in the morning so I can toss it all together at supper time.

Short on time: you can serve this as a warm salad as well with freshly cooked lentils. just allow to cool a bit (you can rinse in cold water) before mixing in the veggies and feta.

The original recipe is from Canadian Living

IMG_4316Kid sized servings with sweet potato crackers on some spinach (1/2 kids liked the spinach – when we had leftovers, I left out the spinach!)

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