Mono cafe bar, Glasgow and a kale salad with lentils, rice and butternut squash

On our first day in Glasgow, we found the apartment we were renting and set out for a wander. It was past lunch time, and with only a limited idea where we were headed we found ourselves outside Mono, yay! We’d looked at the menu online, and it was on our list of places to try. Mostly, it has to be said, because I really, really wanted to try the pho…

Vegan food served in music and performance venues does seem to be a big thing in Glasgow, the three places we tried all followed this pattern, but with nicely different menus!

Mono is a lovely open space, with a raised platform full of tables, and then more dotted around the main floor area. It was very busy while we were there, which was great to see, but the service was very good. It was fun to watch the steady stream of great looking dishes leaving the kitchen!

Mono does have a gluten/wheat free menu with plenty of choices, but they do fry the tofu, chips etc. in oil which is also used for wheat products which limits things if you can’t have gluten rather than just avoid it. This is made clear on the menu though!

We shared hummus, salad and tortilla chips to start, it was a good hummus with all the right flavours.

Alex then had the roasted beetroot and kale salad with pecans, sun dried tomatoes and chickpeas. This also came with a creamy dill dressing which helped to bring it all together. It was a tasty salad, but an awful lot of kale to get through in one go!

I had the pho of course! It came with courgette noodles rather than rice noodles, which was a nice change, but they were a little difficult to eat! The broth was lovely, very different from my Vietnamese style broth, with, I think, lemongrass involved. The selection of vegetables was great, with yellow peppers, mange tout peas and beansprouts among plenty of other things! The veg was cut into rather big pieces though, so along with the noodles I did not manage to eat it in my usual ladylike (ahem…) fashion!

Overall it was a satisfying, tasty, healthy meal which set us up nicely for some more exploring.

In honour of the kale salad, I made this version for work lunches this week, and very good it was too.

Kale salad with lentils and butternut squash

Kale salad with lentils and butternut squash

makes 4 portions

100 g brown basmati rice, rinsed

100 g green lentils, rinsed (the large sort that are about 4mm in diameter)

2 sprigs of dried thyme

approximately 900 ml water to cook the rice and lentils

60 g cashew nuts

1/2 a large butternut squash, diced

2 big handfuls of chopped kale

500 ml water to cook the butternut and kale

2 handfuls of rocket

juice of half a lemon

1 tbsp oil

salt and pepper

for the dressing

120 ml plain soy yoghurt

1 sundried tomato, chopped

10 basil leaves, torn

1/4 tsp celery seed, crushed

salt and pepper

Cook the rice and lentils together. I did mine in a rice cooker which took around an hour, but you could use your usual rice cooking method.

Heat a large saucepan on a medium heat and toast the cashew nuts for a few minutes, stirring all the time, until brown in places. Tip into a bowl.

Next, bring the butternut squash and water to the boil in the saucepan, turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the kale and cook for a further 5 minutes. Drain the vegetables and set them aside to cool saving the cooking water for soup if you like.

When the rice and lentils are cooked, tip them into a large roasting tin and stir through the lemon juice, oil, and some salt and pepper. Discard the thyme stalks. Spread the rice and lentils out into as thin a layer as possible, and cool as quickly as you can.

To make the dressing combine the ingredients together.

Don’t make the dressing too far ahead of time or it can curdle, although it still tastes nice if it does! Half an hour is fine.

Mix the cashews, butternut squash, kale and rocket through the rice mixture, and stir the dressing through to serve.

By E.

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