Anyone who likes Pinterest is sure to have seen pictures of beautiful salads stored in mason jars. For anyone wondering about this storage method, I find that it is by far the best way of storing salads to avoid them going soggy and leaves wilting. Simply layer your salad ingredients in a mason jar, starting with the wet ingredients first and the dry ingredients last so they are stored at top of the jar where they can stay nice and crucnchy and crisp. It's a really good option for anyone bringing packed lunches to work.
I made this lentil salad at my Healthy Eating Workshop on Saturday and made it again today. Lentils are a super source of plant based protein with one cup of cooked green lentils providing about 36% of our daily recommended amount of protein. They are also a great source of folate, iron, phosphorus and manganese. The dressing is very simple and adds real flavour to the lentils. You can chose whatever vegetables to add to the salad but I think beetroot is a must. Beetroot and lentils work so well together as the beetroot has a beautiful sweet and earthy flavour that works great with the lentils. For this recipe I chose to add spring onion and cucumber and then spinach as my leafy green. Herb wise, parsley goes very well with lentils and beetroot. For cruch I added toasted hazelnuts.
Just a word about hazelnuts, I have noticed massive price differences between supermarkets, health food stores and artisan shops for organic hazelnuts so its definitely worth shopping around. When I shopped for hazelnuts last week, for the same amount of organic hazelnuts there was a six euro price difference between two different shops with one shop charging just over 2 euros and another just over 8 euro which is quite the difference. I don't necessarily think cheaper is better and will sometimes pay more for a particular brand and to support local small businesses, but when shopping on a budget it's important to watch out for this type of thing.
When it comes to eating your 'salad in a jar', just empty the contents out on to a plate, toss to combine and enjoy. Of course, this salad can be eaten straight away and if so, just toss the cooked lentils in the dressing and spoon into your serving dish. Add the vegetables and toss to combine. Top with the chopped parsley and hazelnuts.
This recipe makes two decent lunch time portions of this salad. If using fresh vegetables, this salad should keep in the jar in a fridge for about four days.
1 cup of green lentils
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 cup of beetroot
2 spring onions
1 cup of baby spinach
For the dressing:
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
4 tblsp of olive oil
Juice of a lemon
Sea salt and black pepper
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup of hazelnuts
1. Cook the lentils by rinsing them in water and then putting them in a saucepan with the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the lentils are a little softer than al dente. Drain any excess water from the lentils and set to one side.
2. Prepare the vegetables by chopping the beetroot, cucumber and spring onion into bite size pieces and washing the spinach.
3. Prepare the dressing by putting all the ingredients into a jar and closing the jar and shaking it to emulsify the dressing.
4. Prepare the hazelnuts by toasting them in the oven for about 25 minutes. Then remove them and wrap them in a clean tea towel and leave them for five minutes. Then rub the tea towel to remove the skin from the hazelnuts.
5. Assemble the salad in two mason jars by layering the ingredients in this order - dressing, lentils, beetroot, cucumber, spring onions, spinach, parsley and hazelnuts. As I mentioned above, if eating this salad straight away just toss the cooked lentils in the dressing and spoon into your serving dish. Add the vegetables and toss to combine. Top with the chopped parsley and hazelnuts.