Lemony Lentil and Quinoa Salad

MAKES 6 SERVINGS • PREP TIME: 10 minutes • COOK TIME: 25 minutes

Visual appeal is a vital though often ignored aspect of good digestion, as a mouthwatering response to the food on your plate prompts greater production of saliva, which helps break down food from the moment it hits your tongue. When I’m teaching, I like to use quinoa to underscore the importance of appearances. After an unenthusiastic glance at a bowl of cooked plain quinoa, the response is usually “Doesn’t look like much. Kinda tan.” Then we go to work on it, studding the quinoa with tiny green lentils and a blast of color from cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, and mint that gets people excited about this dish. It looks like an edible painting by the time we’re done. Now that’s my idea of art. 

1/2 cup dried lentils, preferably
Le Puy green lentils, rinsed well
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 bay leaf
Sea salt
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup white quinoa, rinsed well in cold water and drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
2 small English cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 cup diced tomato or halved cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons crumbled organic goat’s milk or sheep’s milk feta cheese (optional)

Put the lentils, 1 clove of the garlic, the bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain well, and discard the garlic and bay leaf. Spritz with a bit of the lemon juice and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile put the water, the remaining clove of the garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt in a separate saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the quinoa.

Decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl, and discard the garlic. Add the cumin, coriander, and cinnamon and fluff with a fork until well combined. Let cool to room temperature.

Put the lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add to the quinoa, along with the lentils, mint, and parsley, and fluff with a fork until well combined. Chill for at least 2 hours. Add the cucumbers and tomatoes and fluff with a fork to combine. Taste; you may want to add a squeeze of lemon juice or a pinch of
salt. Sprinkle with the feta before serving.

VARIATION: For a nutritional boost from cruciferous vegetables, add 1 cup of arugula when you add the cucumbers.

Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Reprinted with permission from The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods Copyright © 2013 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. 

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