Crunchy Lentil & Arugula Salad with Sesame-Mustard Dressing
Sometimes, a quick lunch is what we need. But do we want to sacrifice taste, product quality or nutritional value? Of course not! I find precooked legumes (such as beans and peas) to be a really handy item in my pantry, especially when I don’t have much time to cook a meal. I simply reach into the depth of my kitchen cupboards, pull out a can of lentils and off I go whisking them together with something fresh and colourful – et voila. Easy peasy. The bitterness from the arugula, the freshness from the mint, the crunch from the granola, the juice from the tomatoes, the saltiness from the feta, the creamy texture from the lentils and the taste explosion from the dressing – what more could we possibly want from a salad, I ask? This lentil dish is super quick and easy to make, which means that you have no excuse to go and grab a pizza instead. Deal? Okay, let’s learn how to make this!
what you didn’t know about arugula
Arugula, also known as rocket or rucola, is a green leafy vegetable that comes from the Mediterranean. It shares its origin with kale, mustard greens and cauliflower – all the healthy things we love, right? While it is very low in calories (~25 calories per 100g), it contains a broad variety of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals (compounds found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, herbs, whole grains, seeds and nuts). The phytochemicals found in arugula are thought to counteract the carcinogenic mechanisms exerted by estrogen, thereby preventing cervical, prostate, ovarian and breast cancer. Furthermore, arugula contains vitamins C, K and A through which we can boost our immune function (C), contribute to our bone health (K) and improve our skin and eye health (A). One more thing: There have been alarming claims concerning the nitrate content of arugula. Nitrate is a naturally occurring element of the nitrogen-cycle in plants. In large quantities, nitrate can have toxic effects, which is where these health concerns stem from. However, even if you consume arugula on a daily basis, you are fine – unless you eat a kilo of it. It is completely safe to eat as much as 50g of arugula every day without having any adverse health events – which is great news because I really do love my arugula-pizza!
Prep Time: 15 min
For this recipe you will need:
For the crunchy lentil salad
150g green lentils, precooked
½ red onion, thinly sliced
4 big, red, juicy tomatoes
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup savoury granola or toasted nuts and seeds (such as pine nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds)
2 generous handfuls of arugula
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
For the mustard dressing
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ tsp coconut syrup or honey
1-2 tsp water, to achieve pouring consistency
*serve with toasted rye bread and sundried tomato hummus or another delicious spread that you have at home!*
- In a large sieve, drain the lentils and allow most of the liquid to escape.
- Wash the arugula and transfer to a big salad bowl.
- Chop the tomatoes (the seeds and juices are more than welcome) and add to the salad bowl, along with the sliced red onion and finely chopped fresh herbs. Also, add the crumbled feta cheese (unless vegan) and savoury granola to the salad bowl.
- Once most of the liquid has drained from the lentils, combine them with the rest of our scrumptious salad ingredients along with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
- For the mustard dressing, combine the ingredients in a jar (don’t add too much water at first so you can adapt the quantity better) and give it a good shake until all liquids are well combined. Pour this over the salad mixture and leave about 1-2 tsp to pour on top of your creation (you eat with your eyes first!).
- Serve the salad along with freshly toasted rye bread and a dollop of sundried-tomato-hummus.
- Notice the colours, the textures, the flavours, the joy! ♥