Friday, 28 December 2012

Winter Vegetable Lentil Salad with Lemon Parsley Yogurt Dressing

I can't believe 2012 is coming to an end already.  Honestly, the older I get the faster time goes by.  New Years Resolutions have never really been my thing, but I do enjoy the rest of the world taking them on.  Surrounded by so many people suddenly interested in healthier eating is a dream come true every January. It's the one month a year that loving veggies and grains seems to be the norm.  I can't wait to see what the blogosphere will drum up in the weeks to come to meet our healthy eating resolutions.
I'm doing my part with this salad here.  Like so many salads found here, it is one that can be made in advance and stored for a few days worth of lunches.  Crunchy, light and fresh it's the perfect elixir to all your holiday over indulgence. Using vegetables easily found this time of year, it's also fairly economical.  If you're short on time you could sub a can of cooked lentils for the cooked ones.  The dressing will make more than you need for the salad, but it keeps well for a week in the fridge.  It tastes great on fresh greens as well.

 Winter Vegetable Lentil Salad

inspired by bon appetit
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1/4 tsp cayenne

1 cup French lentils
1 cup mixed rice blend (I used this)
1/2 cup diced onion
1 lemon, juiced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cups chopped cauliflower
1/4 cup diced olives (I used these)
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup parsley
salt/pepper to taste

In a blender, combine yogurt, parsley, oil, lemon juice, garlic and cayenne.  Blend on high.  Reserve.

In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  Add lentils and reduce heat to medium.  Cook until just softened (it will still have a "bite" to it).  About 15min.  Drain and reserve.
In a large pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  Add rice and reduce heat to low.  Simmer until cooked.  Depending on the variety, you may need to drain the rice, rather than allow all liquid to be absorbed.  You do not want mushy rice.
Combine diced onion with lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt. Set aside for 30min (minimum) or up to 2 days. 
In a large bowl, combine lentils, rice, onions, carrots, celery, cauliflower, olives and feta.  Pour half the dressing over and mix thoroughly.  Add more dressing to taste.  Top with sunflowers and parsley.  Season generously with salt and pepper.