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Monday, 10 September 2012

Brown Lentil Salad - Absolutely Marvelous!

Brown Lentil Salad

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere." 
                                                                                                                                 - Carl Sagan

Lentils are a regular on my menu! I have always liked lentils and always went for these dried beans for variation in my menus. I am hoping that with today's post, I can inspire you to use lentils in your cooking more often. Because lentils are super foods that are super good for you and also because they taste delicious and offer variation to the same, repetitive, everyday food prep, which causes you to get bored of cooking and your family to be bored of having the same foods over and over. Better still is the fact that lentils can be a super stylish part of your plate. Instead of placing your sliced fillet of any meat over the old and plain mash, why not go for a more creative bed of brown or green lentils that will look gorgeous underneath but will also taste Divine?!

It seems that when we think lunch we mainly think Rice, when we think salad we usually go for the same old Garden Salad, and when we think sides it is either roasted vegetables, pastas, or potatoes in some form! We tend to forget about the little round and slightly flat dried beans, that come in red, green or brown! Lentils are an excellent option for your menus.

Everybody likes lentils in soups, where the lentils can either be the main ingredient and therefore, the main flavour; such as in the classic Lentil Soup or Brown Lentil Soup. Lentils are also used as flavour enhancers where they are not the main ingredient, but one of the ingredients of the soup used to mesh its flavours and properties with the rest of the ingredients; as in the Moroccan Hareera Soup. But Lentils are a fabulous option for Salads, Appetisers and sides as well. So go for it. Get creative and use these little gems more often in your food.

Today's Salad recipe is super easy to prepare, and really delicious. I usually make lots of it, because it is a really good snack anytime, and I keep munching so I might as well munch on something healthy.

Brown Lentil Salad
Serves 6
You Need

3 cups Brown Lentils
4 cucumbers, peeled, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 large green capsicum, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & Black pepper to taste

Wash the lentils, and drain them a few times, until the water comes out clear. Place the washed lentils in a non-stick (healthiest option is ceramic and not pots including Teflon, read more here). Top the lentils with enough water to cover, add 1 tsp of dried mint, and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the lentils are tender but not mushy, drain them and let them cool down.

Making Brown Lentil Salad: Chop the vegetables, add the cooked and drained lentils

Meanwhile chop the vegetables and place them in a large bowl. Add 1/2 the chopped mint leaves and mix well. Add the cooled lentils, and mix all to incorporate. Be gentle and do not break the lentils or squash them.

Prepare the Dressing,
Place the lemon juice, the honey, olive oil the rest of the chopped mint leaves and seasoning in a cup or jar. Stir or shake until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dressing does not look separated. Add the dressing to the mixed vegetables and mix well.

Serve cold as a main, appetiser or side to meaty dishes. Goes very well with baked or pan fired fish fillets. Also pairs well with leg of lamb and roasted chicken.

'Moneta' the Italian brand
manufacturing ceramic cookware.
Bought from CitrussTV in a set
of 3 pieces: A pot, a skillet and a lid

A little Extra...
Also for this recipe I had put the Moneta ceramic cookware to the test as well. This Italian brand known for manufacturing ceramic cookware is sold at CitrussTV in a set of 3: A cooking pot, a skillet and a lid for a very good price. In Ramadan, I had been asked by many of you what I thought about this set, and I had not tried it then. I had promised to give it a try and let you know. So here we are...

In terms of material, ceramic cookware is known for its non-stick property, which is very convenient, as we do not have to worry about the food sticking, or seasoning the pots or any such activities. The pots are ready for use and are non-stick. Non-stick cookware is very useful as it allows home cooks to prepare good looking food - nothing flattering about a broken up piece of fillet because it was stuck to the pan. This kind of cookware also allows home-cooks to produce lighter and healthier food. As you won't need extra oil to avoid sticking. Read more about Ceramic Cookware on this link.

In terms of design, the Moneta set is elegant in dark blue exterior and a white ceramic interior. I liked how they placed the holders slightly extended from the pot with a metal (look at the arrow in the picture above). Because this prevents burning the holders, which usually happens if the pot is placed slightly off centre. I also liked the hole in the lid which allows excess steam to escape, and prevents the lid from being pushed off and making that noise other pots and lids have. All in all it is an elegant experience.

Truly non-stick and extremely easy to clean

In terms of function, It is truly non-stick: I have used the pot for cooking the lentils in this recipe and made sure not to stir even once throughout, and the lentils did not stick at the bottom. Although you should not use ceramic cookware for dry frying, but my husband saw the skillet on the counter and decided to dry fry a steak in it!! I came back right at the end of the cooking process and was totally shocked to see he had used it for the steaks. Look at the photos above. The steak overbrowned on the outside without the heat reaching through to cook the inside. The centre was still raw. That means that it over heats. But to be fair, dry frying not a function that a ceramic skillet should perform! We also noticed that it has heat spots, meaning it heats more on some areas than on others which causes it to not cook the steak uniformly. Therefore for concoctions where heat distribution is important, you are better off using a cast iron skillet or pot. But for daily cooking, it functions great.
The best part of it all is the cleaning! I have not seen a skillet, or pot that cleans as easy. When the steak incident took place, I thought it was ruined. See the second photo from the left. But I just wiped it with tissues and it looked like photo 3. Then I placed it under the tab running some water (only water) over it and it looked like photo 4! That is extreme fast and easy cleaning I would say.

These days I am using the Moneta set for cooking most daily lunches. It is doing very well, and am finding it a very good option that is of course much better than the Teflon non-stick option. You can learn more about the Moneta set in this video...

Hope you have enjoyed this post, and that you are inspired to use lentils more often in your cooking. I also hope I have answered all your questions about the Moneta Ceramic Set. Do let me know if there is anything else you need.

Enjoy this fabulous Salad and drop by again soon for more ... Don't forget to leave me a comment before you go, I love nothing more than hearing from you ;)