May 28th, 2009

Crunchy Brown Rice and Beluga Lentil Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Something strange happened last week: I found myself with an almost completely empty fridge. Not sure how it happened. I actually like food shopping and Fresh Direct makes it pretty easy when I don’t have time to run to the market. But time slipped away and I flaked.

Since it’s a pretty rare occurrence, trying to make dinner with barely anything in the fridge ended up being kind of fun. Like I was on some cooking reality show. I hit the pantry and came up with this healthy salad. The only thing from the fridge was almost (phew) soft celery and the last (I kid you not) carrot. And my strawberry balsamic simple syrup.

One of the things I keep in my pantry are already cooked, vacuum packed beluga lentils from Trader Joe’s. They are perfect for just this very situation. But dried belugas are fast and easy to make, too. Just bring them to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Be careful to not overcook them—they cook quickly. They should still have a firm texture (and shiny black sheen—like caviar) when done. When finished, drain the lentils, but do not rinse.

I threw some brown rice in the rice cooker while I prepped everything else. And then it was a simple matter of mixing it all together. It was delicious and served as a side for one dinner and a couple of packed lunches.

Crunchy Brown Rice and Beluga Lentil Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
(can be adapted for kids 10+ mos)

2 c cooked organic brown rice
1 1/4 c organic beluga lentils, prepared
4 stalks organic celery, quartered lengthwise, chopped
1 large organic carrot, grated
1 c organic dried cranberries (chop for younger eaters)
about 3/4 cup dressing (recipe to follow)

1. Prep the veggies and make the dressing while your brown rice (and lentils, if making from dried) cook.

2.
Mix all ingredients in a big bowl. Dress. Toss to coat thoroughly. Eat. (Mash a little before serving to kids as young as 10 mos.) Should keep in the fridge for up to 4 or 5 days.

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
(can be served to kids 10+ mos)

1/4 c organic strawberry balsamic syrup
1/3 c organic olive oil
1/4 c organic balsamic vinegar


1.
Put all ingredients in a mason jar and shake vigorously until well mixed. Or whisk all ingredients together. Makes about 3/4 c dressing.

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