Every year to ring in the new year, we follow the Italian tradition of eating lentils which are thought to bring luck and prosperity as the tiny round lentils are said to resemble the small lire coins. Usually, we enjoy a nice hearty bowl of lentil soup, or sometimes a dish of braised lentils and sausages, and after cooking a package of lentils to serve with sausages, I had enough leftover to make a salad. After overindulging over the holidays, a big healthy salad is always a good idea! For this hearty salad, I opened my pantry cupboards and pulled out a few leftovers such as pomegranate arils, walnuts, and butternut squash that had been left on my counter for over a week. I included some cooked farro in the salad to create a truly hearty salad that can be enjoyed as a main entree. I added a few fresh ingredients from the refrigerator, ending up with the most delicious salad I’ve had in a very long time. To dress the salad, since it included some earthy flavored items, I used a combination of white balsamic vinegar, the juice of one blood orange, and heart-healthy olive oil which complimented the other ingredients perfectly.
Although we generally eat a pretty healthy diet packed full of whole grains and vegetables, there is always room for improvement. My goal for 2023 is to include even more whole grains into our weekly menu along with healthy, high fiber dried legumes. Farro is high in fiber, rich in protein, and antioxidants. It is also low calorie, fat-free, and rich in magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B3. There are a large variety of lentils available that are quite inexpensive. Lentils are also low in calories, rich in iron and folate and they are an excellent source of protein. Lentils pack health-promoting polyphenols and it is believed that they can reduce several heart disease risk factors. Include the nutrients from a handful of fresh vegetables such as kale, butternut squash, and onion, and this is one healthy, delicious salad!
I generally prefer using the tiny, tan colored Umbrian lentils in my cooking, but instead, for this salad, I chose the small, green French lentils. I would avoid red lentils for salads as they can get mushy. Be careful when cooking the lentils, tasting them often as they cook, as you want them fairly firm for salads. To keep the ingredients intact, it is best to cool them individually before assembling the salad.
Note: Toasting the walnuts really brings out their flavor and is easily accomplished by simply roasting them in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. To roast the butternut squash, peel and dice a medium butternut squash, discarding seeds. Toss the squash with three tablespoons of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the diced squash over an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and roast in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for 15 minutes. Turn the squash over with a spatula, and then roast another 10 minutes or until the squash is fork tender, and is beginning to brown.
Deborah Mele Revised 2022
- 3 Cups Lentils, Cooked "al dente"
- 2 Cups Cooked Farro (Follow Package Directions)
- 1 Cup Finely Chopped Celery
- 3/4 Cup Chopped Red Onion
- 2 Cups Thinly Sliced Kale
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley
- 3/4 Cup Pomegranate Arils
- 3/4 Cup Toasted, Chopped Walnuts (See Notes Above)
- 2 1/2 Cups Diced, Roasted Winter Squash
- 3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
- Juice of 1 Blood Orange
- 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and gently toss.
- Mix together the vinegar, juice, oil, salt & pepper in a small bowl, then pour over the lentil ingredients and gently stir.
- Serve immediately, or store covered in the refrigerator.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 529Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 349mgCarbohydrates: 68gFiber: 17gSugar: 19gProtein: 19g