Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Balsamic Lentil Salad with Edamame

I've been slightly enthralled with lentils since my venture to check out the Rose Bowl Parade floats a few weeks back. Having never cooked them, or eaten them to the best of my knowledge it was high time to investigate. That curiosity has been combined with the fact that I need to add more fiber and protein dense foods into my repertoire. Recently, I've become oddly enamored with this thing called running, and have stuck with a training program for three weeks. That may not sound like much, but its exactly two weeks and six days longer than any prior attempt. Eating whole foods with solid nutritional components is becoming essential, and this combination seemed like a good bet.

For the record, edamame is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids. It's a solid source of protein, fiber, essential fatty acids, and isoflavones. Isoflavones are compounds found only in soy that have been shown to significantly reduce serum cholesterol levels. Lentils also are protein powerhouses, being rich in dietary fiber as well as B vitamins, folate and magnesium. So go ahead, mix up a batch and eat guilt free, knowing that you are putting lots of good for you stuff in your belly.

The first pass at this salad wasn't the success I had hoped for. The combination of colors and textures of the ingredients were largely lost into a vat of grey toned mush, as my first error was to boil two types of lentils and split peas together. Fail. Fear not, no lentil went to waste, as I've saved the first attempt for a lentil soup.

It may not have been the most time or energy efficient method, but I decided to preserve the color of each component to boil them separately. The yellow split peas took a bit longer, so they have an extra 10 minutes of boiled love to their name. The end product was tastier than I could have imagined.

Balsamic Lentil Salad with Edamame
1 cup black beluga lentils
3/4 cup orange lentils
3/4 cup yellow split peas
3/4 cup red onion, diced
3/4 cup edamame, shelled*
1/8 tsp sea salt
4 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar**

Place each lentil and split peas in their own bowl. Add two to three cups of water and rinse, checking for small pebbles, dirt or other organic matter. Remove any non-lentil or non-pea matter.

Place three saucepans with three cups of water in each over medium high heat. Let water come to a boil and add first three ingredients to their own individual saucepan. Bring lentils and peas to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer lentils for 15 minutes, until cooked through. Peas will require an additional 8-10 minutes of boiling.

Strain water from lentils and place in a bowl to cool. Repeat with the peas when they are cooked. Let all cool for 15-20 minutes. While lentils and peas cool, shell edamame. *This required 9 oz unshelled edamame. Dice red onion. When lentils and peas are cooled, combine all and add sea salt. Mix thoroughly. Cover and place salad in fridge and chill thoroughly before serving. ** To maintain color of salad, add balsamic shortly before serving.

As a side note, I left the lentils and peas with a slight bit of al dente tooth to them. My first attempt - see the aforementioned gray mush referenced above- was way too cooked and simply had minimal texture. If you are particular about the texture of your lentils, stand by at the end of cooking and test often until your desired chew level is achieved.


Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete said...

Mmmmm! I need to use up my lentils!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a lovely salad! I like the addition of balsamic vinegar! I subscribed to your blog via rss feed & followed you on twitter so will be in regular touch :)

deemack said...

This sounds so delicious - and healthy! Now that I have found the pre-cooked lentils at Trader Joe's I've been looking for new ways to use them.

Thanks for the kind words on my blog BTW. Very much appreciated!