Monday, September 30, 2013

Lentil Salad with Green Beans and Tomatoes

I have been savoring the last of the really ripe tomatoes and wanted to make a high protein salad to take with me on the plane.  I like bringing my own food as I just don't like what they serve at most airports. I am careful not to pack things that have too strong of a smell (like tunafish) and I really want something healthy to eat when I am on the road. So, I made this lentil salad the night before as it is a really good as a traveling food.  I've discovered that lentils, like pasta, taste best when you salt the cooking liquid enough. I made the salad with those wonderful tomatoes cut up and also some blanched green beans and red onion. I dressed it with red wine vinegar and olive oil and some fresh basil. It was delicious!  

Lentils are very high in protein. They are considered by the Chinese to be sweet and warm.  They are considered a very good food for the spleen and stomach and actually the entire digestive system.  And, they are considered beneficial when you have low energy.  But as always, I like them because they taste good.  They are also one of the most ancient cultivated foods and store (when kept dry) very well. I keep them on hand for a quick soup and as you can see from this recipe, they are a really good ingredient that can help you create a healthy, nutritious and satisfying salad to eat alone or as part of a larger meal.

Lentil Salad with Green Beans and Tomatoes

1 cup Lentils
Handful of green beans, trimmed and cut into small pieces
4 Roma Tomatoes, chopped 
1 small Red Onion, minced
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 teaspoons salt water + 1 teaspoon for salad
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Small handful of basil leaves, cut into small pieces

Rinse Lentils in a large pot and drain.  Cover with water by about 3 inches and add salt. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Cook until tender - about 20 - 30 minutes.  Drain and reserve.  

Blanch green bean pieces for 3 - 4 minutes in a small amount of boiling water or until crisp-tender.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  

Toss lentils, green beans, tomatoes, red onion, olive oil and vinegar together.  Season with salt and pepper and toss again.  Let sit for 1/2 hour or more to let the flavors blend.  Sprinkle with fresh basil when serving.  

Five Element Analysis

Lentils, as pulses, belong to the Earth Element so that element is fully represented as the green beans add even more. The Olive Oil and Red Wine Vinegar contribute the Wood Element. The tomatoes bring in the Fire Element and the Basil adds just a bit of Metal. That element needs enhancement in the meal and the Water Element is missing so be sure to serve it with a Water Food like soup or maybe some grilled fish as the main dish to create balance.  

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