This unexpected salad has a Moroccan flare to it, but not so much that it will overshadow other flavors on your table. Lentils are a staple in our household, and if you are not familiar with them I urge you to give them a go. Whereas other dried legumes must be pre-soaked, lentils don’t and cook up in 30-45 minutes depending on the variety. This means less planning ahead and more versatility. Plus, they add a hearty, comforting quality while providing nourishment and healthy protein.
Spinach Salad with Lentils, Oranges & Dates
For the salad:
- 1 bunch fresh spinach washed and dried
- ½ cup green lentils
- 2 mandarin oranges separated into segments and cut in half if large
- 3-4 dates roughly chopped
- ¼ cup whole toasted almonds
- ¼ cup crumbled Feta or substitute ½ avocado
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro optional
For the dressing
- 1 clove garlic grated or chopped finely
- juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- fresh ground pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Cook the lentils in boiling, lightly salted water for 30-40 minutes until tender, then drain and let cool. In your salad bowl arrange the remaining ingredients, including the cooled lentils. (You can pre-assemble the salad up to this point and refrigerate until ready to serve).
- For the salad dressing, grate the garlic and add the lemon juice, and let sit for a few minutes. This will slightly “cook” the garlic, taking away some of its sharpness. Add the remaining ingredients, whisking in the olive oil at the end. Dress and serve the salad, adjusting for seasoning if it needs more salt. The dressing can be prepared up to a day ahead.