Recipe: Spicy warm lentil, apricot and pine nut salad

Recipe: Spicy warm lentil, apricot and pine nut salad

Try this recipe to feed your brain. Photo: Vanessa Russell

Try this recipe to feed your brain. Photo: Vanessa Russell

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THIS spicy lentil salad can make a filling main meal if coupled with some crusty bread. It is filling and tasty - the cumin lends an exotic touch, while the apricot slivers and pine nuts add richness.

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THIS spicy lentil salad can make a filling main meal if coupled with some crusty bread (see flat bread recipe below). It is filling and tasty - the cumin lends an exotic touch, while the apricot slivers and pine nuts add richness.

If you can't find pine nuts, use the variations below.

If you make this salad a few hours ahead of time the flavours intensify.

I serve this salad on a bed of fresh baby spinach leaves, watercress, rocket (arugula) or a variety of lettuce leaves.

Preparation: 40 minutes. Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1⁄2 cup dried apricots, finely sliced
  • 2-3 spring onions (shallots, scallions), finely chopped
  • juice and rind of 1 large lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 large punnet (or 2 cups) mushrooms, rinsed well and sliced
  • 2 2/3 cups cooked lentils, or 2 cans (425 grams/15 ounces each) lentils, drained
  • 2/3 cup fresh pine nuts
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh coriander (cilantro) or Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cups green leaves, to serve
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced, to serve

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC/355oF. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Place the onion quarters on the tray and bake for about 45 minutes. (You can leave the onions out and move onto step three below.) Remove from the oven and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, place the apricot slivers in a large bowl. Then, in a jug, combine half the spring onions, all the lemon juice, rind, olive oil and seasoning, and pour over the apricot slivers.

4. Place a large saucepan over medium heat, add the cumin and coriander and stir continuously for 1-2 minutes, until you can smell their aroma. Add the mushrooms and stir until they are coated with the spices, and then cook for about 15 minutes, until their juices are released and they become dry. Remove from the heat.

5. Meanwhile, add the baked onions to the apricot mixture.

6. Add the lentils to the mushrooms, and then mix them through the apricot mixture. (You want the lentils to maintain their shape and still be slightly warm when you eat them, so stir them in carefully.)

7. Sprinkle with the remaining spring onions, pine nuts and coriander or parsley, and serve immediately with slices of avocado and on a bed of fresh green leaves.

Variations

  • Replace the pine nuts with almonds, shelled pistachios or sunflower seeds.
  • If you cannot find dried apricots, use 5-6 fresh apricots instead.

Gluten-free flat bread

Preparation: 15 minutes (plus 20-25 minutes baking time). Serves 6-8

Most people who give up gluten miss bread the most, and it's very challenging to make a gluten-free bread that competes with a gluten one. For this reason I haven't tried to do so and have instead made a high-protein flat bread that is great to serve with avocado salsa and soups.

The trick is to eat it while it is still warm from the oven, so prepare all your other dishes and then pop it into the oven so that you can eat it when it is done. Break it into chunks to enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1⁄2 cup chickpea (besan, gram) flour
  • 1⁄2 cup gluten-free 1 flour
  • 1⁄2 cup polenta
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
  • 1 teaspoon herb salt
  • 11⁄2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon psyllium husks
  • 11⁄4 teaspoons baking powder
  • few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 small onion, peeled and thickly sliced

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190oC/375oC. Prepare a baking tray (20 x 25 centimetres/8 x 10 inches).

2. In a bowl, combine the flours, polenta, herbs, herb salt, water and psyllium husks. Set aside for 15 minutes.

3. Add the baking powder, stirring to combine, and then pour into the baking tray, spreading the mixture evenly. Layer the rosemary sprigs and onion slices on the top, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the flat bread comes away from the sides of the baking tray. Sprinkle a little olive oil over the bread and serve immediately.

  • Extract from Feed Your Brain: The Cookbook, by Delia McCabe, Exisle Publishing, RRP $34.99

Exisle Publishing is currently running a competition for readers to win one of 3 brain food hampers worth up to $300 when they buy the book from the website, as well as free shipping and a 20% discount. Details - www.exislepublishing.com

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