January 2016 has arrived, and each new year my resolution is to try and eat a little healthier than the year before. I feel that I am already embracing a healthy eating plan, but there is always room for improvement. This year my goal is to incorporate more healthy grains into our weekly menus and to embrace a mostly vegetarian diet for most of the week. I’m afraid we love seafood too much to give it up completely, so we will treat ourselves on weekends to some seafood. Now, I do not plan on becoming a fanatic about sticking to just vegetables, and if friends invite us over for dinner for a lovely pork roast, I’ll feel just fine enjoying it. I do find however that at this time in my life that I just feel better eating less meat, particularly red meat, so I want to listen to my body.
The Italian culture is full of food-related traditions, and for New Years, lentils are often prepared for the new year. The round shape of a lentil resembles a coin, and when lentils plump during cooking, it supposedly symbolizes growing wealth for the coming year. Although lentils are often prepared for the new year celebration with sausages or cotechino, since I am trying to cut down on red meat, I decided to turn my lentils into a salad. I had been to make a salad over the holidays for my family using roasted sweet potatoes, shaved raw Brussels sprouts, pomegranate trials, and walnuts, and just never got around to it. Instead, on New Year’s Day, once the family had all returned home, and my holiday decorations had been packed away, I used these same ingredients along with cooked lentils and farro to make a very hearty main dish salad.
The pomegranate arils add a tart sweetness to the salad that is very tasty, the walnuts add extra crunch and nutrition, and the cooked farro adds a nutty flavor and whole grain goodness. To dress this unique salad, I combined lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and olive oil, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. This would be a great salad to take to a pot luck dinner, or to pack for a family picnic as it holds up well and is easily packed. To cook lentils, use 3 cups of water to 1 cup of dry lentils. Be sure to use a large enough saucepan as the lentils will double in size. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender. For whole lentils, cook time is typically 15-20 minutes. To cook whole grain farro, place in a pot and add enough water or stock to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes. Pearled farro will take about 20 minutes to cook.
Deborah Mele 2015
New Year's Lentil & Farro Salad With Roasted Sweet Potato & Brussels Sprouts
- 2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, Peeled & Cut Into 1-inch Dice
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 3/4 Pound Brussels Sprouts, Ends Trimmed & Thinly Sliced
- 3/4 Cup Pomegranate Arils (Seeds)
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Sweet Onion
- 1/2 Cup Lightly Toasted, Chopped Walnuts
- 1 1/2 Cups Cooked Lentils
- 1 1/2 Cups Cooked Farro
- Juice of Two Lemons
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the potatoes in a bowl, and toss the potatoes with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Lay the potatoes out onto a foil lined 13×9 inch baking sheet, and roast for about 15 to 20 minutes or until fork tender.
- Cool the potatoes to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, sprouts, pomegranate seeds, onion, walnuts, lentils, and farro.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
- Pour half the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
- Taste, and add as much additional dressing as needed to suit your taste.
- Serve immediately or store covered in the refrigerated until needed.