Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Curried Quinoa Salad with Lentils and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Inspired by Valerie of City Life Eats who was one the winners of the August No Croutons Required Challenge featuring lentils, I adapted this recipe based on her Curried Quinoa Salad with Lentils. I just couldn't wait to try it as it contains some of my favorite ingredients and I never can resist the goodness and nutty flavor of quinoa. Known to the ancient Incans as the "mother of all grains," quinoa is not really a cereal grass but is used just like a grain, with the important difference that is contains a food value that no grain can match. With an almost perfect balance of essential amino acids, quinoa is an unusually complete source of proteins in the plant kingdom, and is also a very good source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins and vitamin E.

This tantalizing salad is perfect for a summer meal. I served it to my family along with a leafy green salad. A crowd pleaser for sure. An interesting range of textures and flavors all in one dish, the crunch of the vegetables, the nutty fluffiness of the quinoa combined with lentils, the flavors all come together with the spices and cashew dressing. Refreshing, perfectly balanced, making this dish an excellent choice for vegetarians.

Instead of the curry powder and other spices, you can use 2 teaspoons of fresh curry powder made up of a dash of asafetida, 1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1 - 2 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom, a pinch of saffron, freshly cracked black pepper and 3 tablespoons of dried fenugreek leaves and also 2 teaspoons of garam masala.

Feel free to reduce the recipe for a smaller serving and do increase the spices if you like it hot like I do. I was a bit more modest with the spicing than usual as I was serving it to my family who are not used to the heat like I am.
Curried Quinoa Salad with Lentils and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Adapted from City Life Cooks

1 cup of uncooked quinoa, rinsed and soaked overnight in two cups of water
1 cup of green lentils (or brown lentils)
3/4 cups of raw cashews, broken into pieces, and dry roasted
juice from two lemons
1 teaspoon of curry powder
dash of mustard powder
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 cup of water
1 - 2 teaspoons of honey
1 large red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 - 3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1/2 cup of scallions, both green parts and white parts, finely chopped
6 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and finely chopped

Bring the quinoa to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed - roughly 15 minutes. Rinse the lentils, transfer to a medium pot and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer until the lentils are tender - roughly 20 to 30 minutes. Drain off any excess water. Combine the cooked quinoa and lentils in a large bowl.

To make the dressing, blend the cashews, lemon juice, water, honey, spices and salt in a blender or food processor until creamy. Add some of the dressing to the quinoa and lentils and toss. Now add the red pepper, jalapenos, scallions and sun-dried tomatoes. Add the rest of the dressing and stir well to combine.

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