After a Thanksgiving weekend eating marathon, a meatless Monday, with this warm and hearty lentil salad, is in order. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

A healthy idea: warm lentil salad

By now, on the fourth day after Thanksgiving, you’ve probably had the obligatory turkey sandwich made with leftovers. Or maybe you went the Latin route with turkey enchiladas. Or turkey tostadas. By now, if you’re like me, you’ve had it hasta aquí with turkey in its infinite iterations, with the endless cooking sessions for family and friends, and, above all, with the marathon eating that has come to mark the beginning of the holiday season.

This, people, is exactly what Meatless Monday was made for. A day to give yourself an eating break, to lighten things up, to give your liver, your heart and, by extension, your blood pressure a much-needed respite.

Which is why today’s Healthy Idea is a simple, warm lentil salad hearty enough to make you feel like you’re eating something substantial but healthy enough to help make up for some of the damage done over the last few days. Every two cups of lentils contains nearly 200 grams of potassium, a mineral that helps blunt the effect of sodium and has been linked to reducing blood pressure. A bonafide power food, lentils also contain the highest level of protein among plant-based foods and are high in fiber too. Serve this with some crusty, whole wheat bread and a glass of red wine, then say de nada to your heart.

Warm lentil salad

1 cup French green lentils
1 small onion, peeled, ends removed, studded with 3 cloves
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T Jerez vinegar
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T parsley, finely chopped
2 T chives, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, whole onion and bay leaf. Add the water and salt and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for about 15 minutes, until the lentils are al dente. Drain the lentils, discard the bay leaf and onion, and set lentils aside in a large bowl.

2. In a small, dry sauté pan, over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds until they are fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

3. To the lentils, add the oil, vinegar, onion, garlic, parsley, chives, red pepper and the toasted cumin seeds and stir gently to combine. Serve warm or chilled. Makes 6 servings.

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