Easy, healthy dinners that everyone will love - rely on your pantry and seasonal produce from the farmers market.
I love lentils - they are always in the pantry - red, brown, beluga, French - I like to keep many varieties on hand. Lentils are a great source of fiber and numerous vitamins and minerals. Nutritionally, lentils are considered an incomplete protein, lacking 2 essential amino acids; however pairing with other grains, seeds or proteins, compliments their amino acid profile making them complete! They are so economical and very easy to cook. Unlike many other dried legumes, lentils do not require soaking. A quick 20 - 30 minute boil and you have perfectly cooked lentils waiting to be paired up in a comforting main dish salad - Warm Lentils with Pan Roasted Veggies and Tuna Dressed with a Lemon Vinaigrette. My lentil of choice for salads - Beluga - they hold their shape beautifully, and have a lovely black color, like beluga caviar.
The feature veggies - carrots and Brussels sprouts. They are in season and oh, so beautiful. Don't have them on hand - substitute with other veggies from the farmers market. Delicata squash would be great, turnips, beets, greens - - - you get the idea - - - be creative! The addition of the veggies adds a super punch of nutrients to the dish!
To prepare the veggies I pulled out the cast iron pan - it does a fantastic job roasting veggies. The trick is to roast the veggies quickly, preserving their bite and nutritional value, but getting a good char to enhance their flavor. A well seasoned cast iron pan can hold its own next to any non-stick pan on the market. And folks, cast iron pans are "giving" - - - they actually can leach iron into your food - a good thing since most of us, especially women, do not get enough iron in our diets! That iron leaching is especially enhanced when you cook acidic foods in the pan. Interesting - eh?
Warm Lentil Salad with Roasted Veggies and Tuna with a Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (do not use olive oil - the pan will get hotter than olive can tolerate)
2 cups cooked, drained lentils, keep warm for the salad
2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 jar good quality tuna, 6 ounces
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. chopped chives
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat a cast iron pan - you want it good and hot! Add the veggie oil, then add the carrot pieces. Keep the heat high, tossing the carrots in the pan every 2 - 3 minutes till exterior is browned. Remove the carrots and add to the warm lentils. Add the Brussels sprouts and onions to the pan and cook in the same manner as the carrots, get a good char on them. Add to the lentil / carrot mixture and toss to combine. Add the flaked tuna. To make the vinaigrette - combine all ingredients and whip to combine. Add the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.