Mrs. Forney’s Cold Lentil Salad

Growing up, my Italian Mom-Mom (my mom’s mother), was the best cook in the world.  I’m not exaggerating on this one and have MANY people that can attest to this statement, so trust me.  Luckily, this gift for good cooking passed along to my mother and as years went on she got better and better in the kitchen.  Now, just like my Mom-Mom’s food used to be, every article of food that my mother comes in contact with becomes this incredible-tasting meal!

Mrs. Forney (as she’s best known as because she’s the best teacher on earth…another statement I’m not embellishing on and have hundreds of students who would agree 100%!) will come across a recipe and switch it up to make it healthier, heartier and most of all delicious. In honor of this Mother’s Day I’m featuring my mom’s latest and most amazing recipe!  (Picture to left is of my mom and I at my Dad’s 60th last fall.  Teehee!)

Mrs. Forney’s Cold Lentil Salad 

Don’t get discouraged by all the ingredients and directions below. This is a super easy recipe the tastes better after being in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you want to make it in advance, at least prepare the lentils and quinoa and refrigerate a day ahead. Prepare and toss in the other ingredients and refrigerate all for at least a half hour. Makes a great presentation – and a healthy addition – when served over lettuce or cabbage leaves! You can add this to brown rice or any other grain, since the quinoa just “coats” the lentils. Also, add this to any prepared salad.
¾ C dried lentils (sorted and rinsed)
½ C dried quinoa, rinsed
1 quart water (for pot)
2-3 oz. fresh asparagus tips and stems (1-inch pieces)
½ C extra virgin olive oil
¼ C balsamic vinegar (preferably dark) but can use white balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 TBS grated ginger
1 ¼ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 C (or less) fresh mint leaves, chopped
½ C fresh parsley, chopped
½ C scallions, chopped, including green stems
4 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 oz pine nuts (or sunflower seeds, any chopped nuts), toasted
Optional Ingredients:
½ C snow peas or carrots, cut up (for extra crunchiness)
¼ C cabbage, sliced thinly
lemon juice, to taste
5-6 C mixed lettuce leaves (radicchio, Romaine, spinach, arugula, cabbage, etc.)
avocado, cubed
Bring water to a boil over high heat in medium saucepan. Add lentils, reduce heat, cover and simmer 17 minutes. Add quinoa, cover and cook 10 minutes more until quinoa is cooked. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Shake off excess water. Set aside. Meanwhile,
  1. In a small pan or pot, in one inch of salted water, cook asparagus pieces: simmer and cover about 2-3 min until tender-crisp. Drain.
  2. Toast seeds or nuts in frying pan on med-high heat, a few minutes, stirring often.
  3. Chop scallions, parsley, mint, and optional snow peas/carrots/cabbage.
  4. Cut cherry tomatoes in half.
  5. Combine oil, vinegar, ginger, salt, black pepper and pepper flakes in a medium bowl.
Add the lentil/quinoa mixture and all from 1-5 above to the oil mixture and toss until well coated. Add lemon juice—or whatever—to taste. Serve over lettuce or cabbage leaves. Add cubed avocado, if you like that, too.

Benefits of Lentils:  Compared to other types of dried beans, lentils are relatively quick and easy to prepare.  Lentils, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. But this is far from all lentils have to offer. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein—all with virtually no fat.

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