Yesterday morning Alex and I took the tram into Blackpool, and as it happened the shops we wanted to visit were either closed or closed down! But the trip wasn’t wasted, as the greengrocers on Topping Street had gorgeous big bunches of herbs and spinach at a very good price. So we came away with dill, coriander, parsley and spinach, hooray!
Having such an amount of lovely herbs immediately brought to mind Vietnamese food, so that’s where the inspiration for this salad came from. Rather than rice or noodles though, we’ve gone for small green lentils and cooked them with lemongrass.
The liquid left over has great flavour, so we’ve used that as the base of a peanut dressing. Along with toasted cashews, the nutty zesty dressing, and masses of herbs and vegetables, it’s a fresh, protein filled salad to take for work lunches which will keep us going all afternoon. I’m looking forward to it already!
makes 4 servings
for the salad
30 g fresh coriander, chopped (plus a little extra for the lentils, see below)
30 g fresh dill, chopped
2 carrots, shredded or grated
1 courgette, shredded or grated
120 g baby corn, sliced
150 g cashews, toasted
for the lentils
300 g small green lentils
2 stalks lemongrass, cut in half and bashed a bit to release the flavour
5 g fresh parsley, chopped
5 g fresh coriander, chopped
600 ml water
75 g spinach, washed and sliced
for the dressing
1 tsp tomato puree
1 tbsp peanut powder, or peanut butter
3 tbsp lime juice (1 tbsp for the dressing, and 2 tbsp to finish the salad)
100 ml lentil water, top up with stock if there isn’t enough left
1 tsp oil (omit if using peanut butter)
a large pinch of salt
First set the lentils cooking. Put the lentils, lemongrass, parsley, coriander and water into a rice cooker or saucepan. Cook for around 20 minutes until the lentils are tender. If you’re using a saucepan keep it mostly covered so that you don’t lose too much of the liquid.
Add the spinach for the last 2 minutes of cooking time. Drain the lentils, reserving the liquid, and remove the lemongrass. Set aside to cool. While the lentils are cooking prep the carrots, courgette, baby corn, coriander and dill and toss them together in a large bowl.
Toast the cashew nuts in a dry saucepan until starting to brown and then tip out to cool.
Using the same saucepan, heat 100 ml of the lentil cooking water on a low heat until just starting to bubble and whisk in the tomato puree, peanut powder, 1 tbsp of the lime juice, the oil, and salt. Cool.
Mix the lentils, cashew nuts and dressing into the bowl with the vegetables and herbs, along with the other 2 tbsp of lime juice.
By A. and E.