When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Quinoa Lentil Salad (gluten-free, vegan)

One recent weekday, I was doing some shopping at our favourite local health food store just before lunch time.  I was inspired by my rumbling tummy to take a peek at their freshly-made meal offerings to see if there was anything I might want to take home for a quick and easy lunch once I was finished my errands.  (If you're going to grocery shop when you're hungry, a health food store seems like the best place to do it in!) I was happy to find a very appealing looking quinoa and lentil salad peeking out from behind the glass cooler doors, so I took a container of it home, and then put together a green salad with veggies and a simple lemon vinaigrette to go with it.  My lunch was super tasty and satisfying, so much so that I wanted to be able to recreate it again on my own.  This is my homemade version of that quinoa lentil salad.

Quinoa Lentil Salad
(inspired by a similar salad from Healthy Foods & More in Waterloo)

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup uncooked green lentils, rinsed
1 large carrot, shredded
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp sunflower oil
the juice of one large lemon, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp sea salt
pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa according to package directions.  (I brought 2 cups of water to a boil, stirred in the quinoa, reduced the heat to a simmer, cooked the quinoa for 15 minutes, covered, and then let it stand until cooled.)

Cook the lentils in a separate pot of boiling water for approximately 20 minutes, or until they are tender. Drain the lentils and rinse them under cold water to cool them.

When the quinoa and lentils are cool, place them in a large bowl along with the shredded carrot, red and yellow bell peppers, red onion, and parsley.  Stir gently until all ingredients are well combined.

To make the dressing, add the garlic, olive oil, sunflower oil, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper to a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Shake vigorously to mix all ingredients.  Pour the dressing over the salad and stir gently to coat.

It is best if you can let this salad sit for a little while in the refrigerator before serving it, to allow the flavours to mingle.  Leftovers keep well in the fridge for a few days.

A nutritious salad like this one made in advance makes a perfect lunch for work or school -- simply pack it in a container (my favourites are Lunchbots) and you're good to go!  I hope you enjoy this combination of quinoa, lentils, fresh veggies and herbs as much as I do.

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