Black Lentil Charred Broccoli Shepherd’s Pie + a Virtual Saint Patrick’s Day party

This Black Lentil Charred Broccoli Shepherd’s Pie is an extremely warm and comforting entree.  This unique take on shepherd’s pie captures the essence of the classic version minus the meat.  The charred broccoli is bursting with flavor and it adds to the overall savory essence of the dish.  The lentils provide protein and deliver a heartiness facet while the mashed potatoes deliver the comforting component.

3U9A7650 It will be Saint Patrick’s Day in 7 days.  Do you have your holiday meal planned out?

 My friend Lynn, over at “The Road To Honey” recently invited me to participate in a Virtual Saint Patrick’s Day party.  The idea behind the virtual party is to have a group of bloggers to each individually prepare their favorite Irish-inspired recipe to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day and post the recipe to their individual blogs at the same time.  Just imagine a party with all of these delicious dishes at your very own Saint Paddy’s day celebration!  There are cocktails, appetizers, main dishes and desserts.

Black Lentil Charred Broccoli Shepherd's Pie I am always amazed by the food blogging community.  Everyone is so sweet and supportive of each other.  Although we all live in different parts of the globe, it is inspiring that we can get together to create virtual parties like this one.

Come join us if you are pondering on what to make for Saint Paddy’s Day.  We’ve got you covered!

Each of the participating blogger’s recipes is available on their individual blogs.  Click on the links below to check out all the amazing recipes.   We will also be on Instagram with our personal hashtag #saintpatricksdayfeast2017

Cocktails
Beyond Mere Sustenance -St. Patrick’s Lemon Cucumber Martini With Fresh Basil
No Spoon Necessary -Sour Apple Tequila Cocktail – The Lucky Shamrock
Appetizers/sides
The Road to Honey – Guinness Irish Stew Mini Pot Pies
What Should I Make For…– Traditional Irish Soda Bread with Orange Butter
Kevin is cooking – Colcannon Irish Mashed Potatoes
Entrees
The Beach House Kitchen -Bangers and Mash with Guinness Onion Gravy
Seasons & Suppers  Irish Spice Bag
Girl Heart Food – Shepherd’s Pie
Salt & Lavender – Pork Chops with an Irish Whiskey Sauce
Dessert
Salted Plains -Vegan Mint Chocolate Bark
The Sweet Nerd – Get Charmed By Double Spice Chocolate Cookies
The Busy Spatula – Lucky Charms Churros & Real Pistachio Pudding
Beer Girl Cooks – Raspberry Chocolate Milk Porter Pudding Shooters
Sugarhero – Bailey’s Chocolate Caramel Tarts
Meg is Well – Boozy Irish Coffee Milkshake with Baileys Caramel Drizzle
Ciao Chow Bambina – Chocolate Stout No-Churn Ice Cream with Homemade Toffee Crumble
 *

Black Lentil Charred Broccoli Shepherd's Pie This dish is fantastic with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinto Gris.

Black Lentil Charred Broccoli Shepherd's Pie Black Lentil Charred Broccoli Shepherd’s Pie Recipe:

Approx. 1 1/2 hours to prep and cook + 20 to 25 minutes to bake

6 – 8 servings

 Caramelized Onion
  • 2 Small White or Yellow Onions – thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Filtered Water
  • 2 Tablespoons +1/3 Cup Dry White Wine – divided (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme or 1 teaspoon of dried
  • 1 Teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 2 Teaspoons Arrowroot Powder
  • 2 Vegetable Bouillon Cube – unsalted
  • 1/3 Cup Tomato Sauce –  I used strained tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Filtered Water
Lentils
  • 1 Cup Dried Black Lentils
  • 4 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cube – unsalted
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt – or to taste
Charred Broccoli
  • 2 Large Heads Broccoli  – 8 Cups – roughly chopped – (charring the broccoli literally halves in size)
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Mashed Potatoes
  • 2 Pounds Russet Potatoes – peeled – cut into small cubes
  • 2/3 Cups Milk
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 1/4 Teaspoons Pink Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Instructions:
Onions

Slice the onions in half, cut the ends off and remove skin and slice into thin half circles.

In a large sauté pan, add onion and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stir after about 8 minutes.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon water, deglaze the golden crust (fond) by scraping it with a wooden spoon and cook for 5 more minutes.
Add 1 tablespoon wine, thyme, garlic and salt then deglaze (scrape up the fond) and cook for 5 more minutes.
 Add another tablespoon of wine, scrape the fond off the pan and set the pan aside.  (A total of 20 minutes.)
Lentils

 Sort lentils to make sure there are no rocks then rinse and drain.

Add the lentils, bouillon and salt to a medium pot.  Cover with 2 inches of water.  Bring to a boil then reduce to medium-low and simmer.

Cook until just tender approx. 15 minutes.  You don’t want them too soft because they will continue to cook in the oven.  

Check them at 15 minutes.  They should be cooked but still firm.  Strain and set aside. 

While the lentils are cooking, start the broccoli.
Charred Broccoli
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toss together the broccoli, oil, salt, and pepper.
Spread out on the baking sheet and place on middle rack.
Roast for 20 – 25 minutes or until broccoli is as charred as you like it.  While the broccoli is cooking you can start the potatoes.
Mashed Potatoes
Start by peeling and then cutting potatoes into cubes, place potato cubes in a large pot and cover with filtered water.
Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until very tender.  Use a timer and check at 15 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and add back to the pot along with the butter.  Mash well.  When the butter is melted, add the milk, salt and pepper.  Mix until fluffy.  While the potatoes are cooking you can start the assembly process below.
Assemble
Preheat oven to 400
Add the butter to the onions and when melted stir in the arrowroot powder, add the wine and mash in the bouillon.  
Next, add the tomato sauce, thyme, salt and lentils.  Stir everything together. 
Spread the lentil/onion mix on the bottom of a 3-quart casserole dish then top with the broccoli.
Evenly spread the mashed potatoes on top of the broccoli and smooth it out as best you can.
Place on the middle rack and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until slightly golden.
 *
Black Lentil Charred Broccoli Shepherd's Pie Health benefits:

Broccoli has a cholesterol-lowering ability and strong impact on our body’s detoxification system.  It is also rich in both forms of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble.  It is very high in vitamin C & K.

Lentils have extremely high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber.  They have cholesterol-lowering fiber which helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady stream of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart, the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health.  Lentils provide a steady stream of glucose to your brain.  Glucose is a sugar and a key source of energy for the cells in the body and it is the only fuel your brain can use.  The high fiber regulates the release of the glucose, providing a steady stream of fuel that powers your brain cells, and is a key component in keeping your brain healthy.  Lentils are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with food containing vitamin C, the iron is enhanced, which in turn increase your energy.  They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth.  Lentils originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River have been eaten for over 8000 years.

Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad with Charred Broccoli Pesto

This Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad is so satisfying and nutritious!  The charred broccoli pesto is super flavorful and out of this world!!!  The char of the broccoli adds a beautiful dimension to this salad.  The salad recipe only calls for about half of the pesto, so you could cut the pesto recipe in half but I don’t recommend it.  The pesto is so good that you will want to use the extra on toasted crostini or French bread.

Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad Lately, I have been on a mission to clear out clothes that no longer serve me or my style.  It is actually harder than you might think.  Clothes have always been a big deal to me.  It goes back to my youth when I was about 14.  I remember being embarrassed that I didn’t have all the cool new expensive clothes.  Each year for back to school, my mom would buy me basic clothes that consisted of three pairs of pants and a few new tops, while all my friends had all the latest in fashion styles.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford them.

It was music that saved me.  My friends and I had gotten into punk rock, mod, ska, and reggae.  It was no longer about expensive clothes but it was all about thrift store and vintage clothes.  My mom would give me lunch money and I would spend it on thrift store clothes.  I could get a whole bag of clothes for super cheap.  My friend Maggie and I wore the same size, so we would each fill up two hefty trash bags full of clothes and swap them with each other every two weeks or so.  We were into being as funky as we could and we never wore the same outfits twice.  It was a way to express my creativity and boy did I have fun with it.  Believe it or not, I still have some of those old thrift store clothes.  Nowadays, I wear maybe twenty percent of my wardrobe.

My current approach to clearing out my old clothes is to divide my closet into two sections.  One section contains the clothes I wear all the time and the other section contains the clothes I can’t seem to part with but will probably never wear again.  I have actually gone into the section that I don’t normally wear and have started to wear some of my old clothes again and I have also been able to part with some as well.   Another thing that has made it easier for me to let go is to give clothes to friends that I know will love them.  My friend Alison is in a bluegrass band called “Sugar by The Pound” and she dresses so cutely in mostly vintage clothes. I have some great vintage clothes that I think she will love.  Is it as hard for you to let go of clothes you are no longer wearing as it is for me?

Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad I like to serve this salad with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand.

Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad Recipe:
Approx. 6 – 8 servings
A hearty dish that is great served warm or cold.
  • 1 Cup Dried Black Lentils
  • 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cube
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Filtered Water
  • 1 Head Kale – ribbed – thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Radish – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Red Cabbage – minced
  • 3 Cup (6 cups raw) Charred Broccoli
  • 1 Cup Charred Broccoli Pesto – recipe below
  • Filtered Water – thin out pesto if desired
Charred Broccoli
  • 2 Large Heads Broccoli  – 8 Cups – roughly chopped – (charring the broccoli literally halves in size)
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Charred Broccoli Pesto
  • 1 Cup Charred Broccoli
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 3/4 Cup Pecorino Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
Instructions:
Lentils

Sort lentils to make sure there are no rocks then rinse and drain.

Add the lentils and bouillon then cover with 2 inches of water in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil then reduce to medium-low and simmer.

Cook until just tender approx. 20 – 25 minutes, you don’t want them too soft or they will be mushy so check them at 15 minutes.

While the lentils are cooking, start the broccoli.

Charred Broccoli
You’re going to char the broccoli for the salad and the pesto at the same time.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toss together the broccoli, oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out on the baking sheet and place on middle rack.
Roast for 15 minutes, then stir pieces around for even cooking.  Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure and check on them every 5 minutes, until broccoli is as charred as you like it.
Pesto
Measure one cup of the charred broccoli along with remaining ingredients to a food processor or blender.

Blend until desired texture.  Pour into a bowl and stir in the vinegar and oil.

Salad

In a large bowl, add lentils and stir in the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of oil, salt, and pepper.  In a large bowl, massage 1 tablespoon oil into the kale and then add to the lentils.  Mix well.  Sprinkle the veggie on top and serve the pesto on the side.  It can be served warm or cold.

Note * I tend to like the pesto with just a touch of water to thin it out.  This salad is great with a light vinaigrette in place of the pesto as well!

Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad Health benefits:

Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady stream of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health. Lentils provide a steady stream of glucose to your brain.  Glucose is a sugar and key source of energy for cells in the body, and is the only fuel your brain can use.  The high fiber regulates the release of the glucose, providing a steady stream of fuel that powers your brain cells, and is a key component in keeping your brain in excellent shape. They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy.  They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K. They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth. Lentils originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River have been eaten for over 8000 years.

 Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and it is a loaded with antioxidants which help to detox the liver. It is also an anti-inflammatory with omega-3 fatty acids, which is helpful for arthritis, joint pain and asthma.  Kale has more Iron than beef and more calcium than milk which helps prevents osteoporosis, joint flexibility and helps maintain normal bone health. It is great for cardiovascular support that helps in lowering cholesterol.  It is really high in vitamin A, C, and super high in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K (anyone taking anticoagulants should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K that may interfere with the drugs.)    More on kale 

Black Lentil Chili with Crispy Shoestring Fries and Crunchy Veggie Pico de Gallo

This Black Lentil Chili is one of my favorite dishes.  It is an extreme comfort food packed with a whole lot of roasted pepper and tomato goodness.  It’s perfect on its own or you can dress it up with yummy crispy shoestring fries and my incredible crunchy veggie Pico de Gallo.

3u9a4817 I was obsessed with Amy’s canned lentil chili when growing up, so I decided it was high time that I share my own version.  Amy’s uses brown lentils where I use black lentils.  Black lentils have a firmer texture so I feel like it lends itself to a heartier chili.  I have to admit that there are times where all I want is basic comfort food and to me, that means chili, fries and cheese.  However, there are other times where I want to add the freshness of my crunchy veggie Pico de Gallo salsa.  I love this chili smothered in cheddar cheese but it is also awesome left vegan.

3u9a4777 This crunchy veggie Pico de Gallo is a unique and incredible salsa that adds an amazing fresh quality to the mix.  The colors of this salsa make me so happy. It’s like a treasure chest of jewels.

Robby and I are pretty much obsessed with salsa and it is always a sad day when tomatoes are no longer in season.  I was determined to create an off-season salsa and I feel that I have succeeded.  It is so incredibly versatile.  You can eat it with chips, add it to quesadillas, burritos, tacos, beans, salads, rice, pasta, soup and the list goes on and on.  What would you like to add it to?

3u9a4829 On another note, how was your Easter?  We had a relaxing afternoon around the house and then we headed to our friends Erika and Gary’s house for dinner and had a super fun time full of conversation and laughter.  I made my rosemary garlic almonds, which were a bigger hit than I imagined.  Erika’s friend Teresa brought her artichoke dip that was to die for, I couldn’t stop eating it!  I must get the recipe and share it with you!  There was plenty of wine and champagne to go around, not to mention, Erika made her famous potato au gratin. YUMMMMM!!!

3u9a4843 Black Lentil Chili Recipe:

10 – 12 servings

  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Red or White Onion – diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1/4 Dry Red or a Dry White Wine
  • 1 Jar Strained Tomatoes – I use Bionature (this link is for 6)
  • 10 – 12 Cups Filtered Water
  • 4 Cups Black Lentils
  • 2 Poblano Peppers – roasted – deseeded – destemmed – diced
  • 1 Anaheim Pepper -roasted – deseeded – destemmed – diced
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper -roasted – deseeded – destemmed – diced
  • 1 Red Orange Pepper -roasted – deseeded – destemmed – diced
  • 1 Red Yellow Pepper -roasted – deseeded – destemmed – diced
  • 2Tablespoon Ancho Powder (you can buy it already in powder form or de-stem and de-seed whole dried peppers and grind them in a coffee grinder until it turns into a powder)
  • 2 Tablespoons Paprika Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano
  • 2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons Sea Salt or to taste
  • 1 Cup Frozen Corn
Crunchy Veggie Pico de Gallo
  • 1/2 Cup Radishes
  • 1/2 Cup Red Cabbage
  • 1 Orange Bell – diced
  • 1 Red Bell – diced
  • 1 Poblano Pepper – roasted – diced
  • 1 Anaheim Pepper – roasted – diced
  • 1/2 Onion – diced
  • 1 Cup Cilantro – roughly chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic – minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 1/2 to 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
Crispy shoestring potatoes
  • 1 Yellow Potato
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil – plus more for baking sheets
  • Sea Salt – sprinkling
Garnish
  • Shoestring Potatoes
  • Crunchy Veggie Pico de Gallo
  • Optional Garnish
Other garnish options
  • Cheddar Cheese – regular or vegan
  • Sour Cream – regular or vegan
  • Avocado
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Jalapeño
Instructions:
Black Lentil Chili

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven add the onion and olive oil to a straight sided pan and sauté on medium-low heat for 5 minutes then add the garlic and cook until garlic just starts to brown.  Add wine and cook until reduced and it has a syrupy consistency.

While onions are cooking, grind the ancho peppers to a powder.

When the wine is reduced add the strained tomatoes and spices, except the salt!  Turn up the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the water and lentils and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium again.  Cook for 20 to 25 minutes.

Add the spices, roasted peppers, corn and salt.

 Let cook on medium low for at least 10 minutes to incorporate the flavors.  You can also puree up to half of the lentils before you add the veggies.

Crunchy Veggie Pico de Gallo

Roast the poblano and anaheim peppers on the stovetop at medium-high heat.  A gas stove works the best but it works fine on an electric stove.  Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs.  When good and charred, steam them for about 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag rolled shut to hold in the steam.

Take a paper towel and rub off the char.  It’s ok to leave a little of the char.  Slice in half and remove the seeds and stems.

Add the onion, jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, lime juice and salt to a medium sized bowl and mix well.  Next add the radishes, cabbage, and the bell peppers to the bowl.  When the roasted peppers are steamed dice and add then mix everything well.
Crispy shoestring potatoes 
Use a julienne peeler or a spiralizer to cut potatoes into strips.  Submerge the potatoes in a bowl of cold water.  Drain potatoes and place on a clean towel.  Pat as dry as you can with paper towels.
Toss together potatoes, oil, and salt in a bowl.  Arrange potatoes in a single layer as best you can on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for about, 12 to 18 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.  (I turn them in 8 minutes.) Turn potatoes with a metal spatula a few times and rotate the baking sheets halfway through.  I cut the potatoes so there are four flat sides and depending on the size I might cut the sides to match the width of the peeler.
*You will have some leftover scraps that I usually add to a pot of water, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.  You can fry them up for breakfast or however, you seem fit.  
 *
 Health benefits:

Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady stream of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health. Lentils provide a steady stream of glucose to your brain.  Glucose is a sugar and key source of energy for cells in the body and is the only fuel your brain can use.  The high fiber regulates the release of the glucose, providing a steady stream of fuel that powers your brain cells, and is a key component in keeping your brain in excellent shape. They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy.  They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K. They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth. Lentils originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River have been eaten for over 8000 years.

Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad with Arugula Pecorino Vinaigrette

This Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad is beautiful, colorful and healthy with a great mix of flavors and textures!  There is bountiful crunch from the crispy lentils, almonds and kale and dreamy softness form the mozzarella and tomatoes.  It has a spectrum of flavors from the basil, almonds and the slightly spicy.  It’s just an all around great salad!

This Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad

I am so excited right now!  Robby bought an old 68 blue Schwinn 3 speed bike to ride when I ride my rusty red 79 Schwinn 10 speed bike.  I didn’t have any extra money to spend on a bike when I first moved back to Venice beach in 2007.  (you can read about my leap of faith move here) You really need a bike when you live in Venice if you don’t want to go insane with all the traffic and circling the neighborhood for 15 minutes to 45 minutes looking for a parking space.  One day, my friends Beto and Brian called me and told me they had a surprise for me.  The surprise turned out to be a beat up rusty old red Schwinn bike they found in the alley.  They brought the bike to a bike shop that fixed it up just enough to make it rideable.  Actually, this was the best present ever!  I rode it every day.  I rode it to work and after work, I would go down to the boardwalk to ride it from my apartment on Rose Ave. to Temescal Canyon Blvd and back while the sun was setting.  I especially loved that it was rusty and somewhat trashed because I could lock it up almost anywhere without having to worry about it getting stolen.  I would ride it to my friends’ houses, the health food store, to the pier every Thursday night for the Twilight concert series and to parties.  It was perfect!

When I moved to Santa Cruz, Robby and I rode his mountain bikes a few times but we really just wanted to cruise around on comfortable bikes.  My poor red bike hadn’t been ridden in 5 years.  Lucky for me, Robby is now on a mission to fix up both of our old Schwinns.  He bought vintage handlebars, stem, seat, fenders, front wheel, a little round reflector for the rear fender, brake pads, brake cables, etc.  He cleaned years of grime and dirt off of both of them as well as a complete overhaul to make them ride better than new.  There is still a little rust on the frame of my bike just to remind me of the great times I had with it in Venice.  We wanted them to look vintage so we chose not to completely restore them which we think gives them more character.  I cannot wait to go for a ride on our new old bikes.

This Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad

This salad goes great with a Chianti, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir or a Grenache for a red or a Pinot Gris, Soave  or Sauvignon Blanc for a white.

This Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad

Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad
Recipe: 4 to 6 servings
  • 1 Cup Crispy Black Lentils – roasted – recipe below
  • 1 Recipe Arugula Pecorino Vinaigrette – recipe below
  • 1 1/2 Cups Tomato Basil Almonds – recipe below
  • 1 Head Dino Kale about 7 cups – washed – deribbed – thinly chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes  – wedged or diced
  • 1 Container Small Fresh Mozzarella – thinly sliced or quartered
  • 1/4 Red Onion – thinly sliced or diced
  • 1  Cup Basil – packed – chiffonade
Tomato Basil Almonds – whole recipe
  • 1 1/2 Cups Raw Almonds
  • 1 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Sauce (Bionaturae strained tomatoes was the brand used here)
  • 1/3 Cup Basil – minced
  • 1 -2  Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 Teaspoons Sea Salt
Arugula Pecorino Vinaigrette
  • 1 Small or 2 Tablespoons Shallots – minced
  • 1 Small Garlic – minced
  • 1 1/2 Cups Arugula
  • 1 Serrano Pepper – optional
  • 1/4 Cup Champagne Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Pecorino – shredded
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Dash Black Pepper
Crispy Black Lentils
  • 1/2 Cup Black Lentils –  uncooked
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Instructions:
Tomato Basil Almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mince the garlic and basil add to a bowl, add the olive oil, almonds, tomato sauce and sea salt then mix well and spread evenly onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, stir halfway.

Let cool completely.  *While the almonds are cooking and cooling make the vinaigrette.

Arugula Pecorino Vinaigrette
In a food processor, add everything except the minced shallots and garlic.  Puree then add to a jar with the shallots and garlic and shake well.
Lentils

Turn the oven up to 400°F.

Measure the lentils and sort for any rocks then rinse.  Add water to the lentils, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for about 15 – 20 minutes or until lentils are soft, yet still firm.  Strain and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a bowl toss the lentils, oil and salt together then spread out on the parchment.

Roast lentils for 25 – 30 minutes, stir in between.  Roast until crunchy. Watch them closely at the end so they don’t burn.  Let cool.
The Rest
You can either mix the kale, tomatoes, mozzarella, onion and basil together and top individual salads with the almonds, lentils and dressing.
 Or, place the kale onto a large platter place the tomatoes all around and do the same with mozzarella, onion, lentils and basil and top individual salads with the almonds and dressing.
* To keep the almonds and lentils crunchy, you will want to add them at the end.
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Health benefits:
Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and it is a loaded with antioxidants which helps detox the liver. It is also an anti-inflammatory with omega-3 fatty acids, which is helpful for arthritis, joint pain and asthma.  Kale has more Iron than beef and more calcium than milk which helps prevents osteoporosis, joint flexibility and helps maintain normal bone health. It is great for cardiovascular support that helps in lowering cholesterol.  It is really high in vitamin A, C, and super high in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K (anyone taking anticoagulants should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K that may interfere with the drugs.)    More on kale 
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Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady stream of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health. Lentils provide a steady stream of glucose to your brain.  Glucose is a sugar and key source of energy for cells in the body, and is the only fuel your brain can use.  The high fiber regulates the release of the glucose, providing a steady stream of fuel that powers your brain cells, and is a key component in keeping your brain in excellent shape. They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy.  They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K. They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth. Lentils originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River have been eaten for over 8000 years.

Black Lentil Greek Salad with Fried Halloumi and Oregano Feta Lemon Pesto

The texture combination of lentils and fried halloumi is fantastic in this Black Lentil Greek Salad.  The pesto lends an amazing flavor and the vegetables offer a fresh quality to the mix.

Black Lentil Greek Salad

I have an interesting story to tell you!   My mom and I traveled to Asia back when I was in my twenties.  Her boyfriend at the time Hal asked her if we would like to meet him in Greece. Hell yah!  Shortly after we arrived, Hal asked me if I wanted to go to Santorini to see the black sand beaches or if I would prefer to tour some ruins.  I oddly chose the ruins because who wants to go to black sand beaches?!?!  Ha, Ha!!! We decided to explore the Palamidi Castle in Nafplio.  There is a 913 step climb to reach the castle.  When we arrived, a strange feeling came over me as if I had been there before.  We wandered around checking out all the rooms. The castle had extraordinary views of the city of Náfplio, rugged mountains and the Mediterranean Ocean.  It was amazing!

After my visit to Greece, I flew to London to meet up with my friend Maggie.  We bought a eurail pass and traveled through Europe together.  When I told Maggie that I had just gone to the Palamidi Castle, her jaw dropped.  She told me that she and two of our really close friends (Robby’s too) Bela and Antonia were just in Greece. She said that they also visited the Palamidi Castle just three days after I was there.  She said that it was closed when they arrived so they hopped the fence (that’s my friends for you) and they had the whole place to themselves.  We both kept saying jokingly, “who goes to Nafplio instead of black sand beaches?”  You might think it’s a coincidence but I’d like to think we had all been there together in prior life.  Sounds way cooler, don’t you think?

Black-Lentil-Greek-Salad-with-Oregano-Feta-Pesto - Vegetarian

When I was in Greece, I ate a Greek salad every day if not twice a day.  While there, I discovered that Greek salads varied based on the region.  In some areas, Greek salads included oregano and others used thyme instead of oregano.  Some areas would add green bell peppers and others did not and so on. In this recipe I put my own spin on the Greek salad with the addition of the lentils, halloumi and an oregano feta pesto.  It’s more of a meal than a side salad.

This salad is perfect with a white wine such as a Pinot Gris, Albarino, white Rioja or Sauvignon Blanc.   And for a red a Pinot Noir or a Temperino.

Black-Lentil-Greek-Salad-with-Oregano-Pesto - Vegetarian

Black Lentil Greek Salad Recipe:

approx. 6 to 8 servings

  • 1 Cup Dried Black Lentils
  • 1 Cup Oregano Feta Lemon Pesto
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
  • 3 Medium Tomatoes  – sliced into wedges or cubed
  • 1 Cucumber – peeled – deseeded – cut in half – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Small Red Onion – cut in half and thinly slice each half
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Oregano Leaves
  • 4 to 8 oz. Halloumi – 1/2 inch cubes cubed (I used 8 oz.)

Oregano Feta Lemon Pesto – Approx. 1 1/2 Cups

  • 1/2 Cup Sheep Feta
  • 1 Cup Oregano Leaves
  • 1 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

Oregano Pita Chips – (optional)

  • 2 or more Pita – cut into 12 wedges
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive OIl
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano – minced
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste

Instructions:

Lentils

Measure the lentils and sort for any rocks then rinse.  Add water to the lentils, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for about 15 – 20 minutes or until lentils are soft, yet still firm.  Strain and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking start the pesto.

Pesto

Wash the oregano, dry well and pull of the leaves from the sprigs then measure.  Measure all the other ingredients and put into in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

Halloumi

Drain the halloumi, rinse and cut it into 1/2 inch (or smaller) cubes.  Dry with paper towels to avoid splattering in the pan.

 Heat a tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  (I used a cast iron skillet) When the oil is hot, add the cubes of halloumi and cook for a few minutes to brown.

Flip the halloumi cubes with a spatula to brown on the other side.  They don’t need to be browned on all sides, but they should be a nice golden brown.

Pita Chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roughly chop the oregano then cut each pita bread into quarters and each quarter into thirds to make 12 triangles.  Place them in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with olive oil and salt and gently toss.  Lay them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with oregano.  Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes or until crisp.

Assemble   

Mix the lentils with the pesto, vinegar and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Stir in the cheese, cucumber, onions and oregano.  Then carefully stir in the tomatoes.  Serve with pita chips.

Black-Lentil-Greek-Salad-with-Oregano-Feta-Lemon-Pesto

Health benefits:

Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady steam of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health. Lentils provide a steady stream of glucose to your brain.  Glucose is a sugar and key source of energy for cells in the body, and is the only fuel your brain can use.  The high fiber regulates the release of the glucose, providing a steady stream of fuel that powers your brain cells, and is a key component in keeping your brain in excellent shape. They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy.  They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K. They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth. Lentils originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River have been eaten for over 8000 years