Slightly Sprouted Green Lentil Salad

Moong (or mung) beans are eaten far more in Indian cuisine than American, but they shouldn’t be. For a dose of health, you can’t do much better than these. The small, oval dark green lentils known as “moong dal” or “green gram” are high in protein, and Vitamin C, and also contain magnesium, phosphorus and potassium in smaller amounts.

More importantly, they are delicious, and especially when sprouted, very digestible for both adults and toddlers. The flavor is slightly nutty, and they are filling and comforting food.

Mung bean sprouts are very common in grocery stores, but since I prefer them more like beans and less like gangly sprouts, I sprout them at home and eat them just when they are barely ready to slip off their small green skins. (I’m also skeptical of store-bought sprouts, which are a far-too-frequent trigger for e coli and similar food poisoning incidents.)

The recipe below takes 3 days and 30 minutes, but don’t let the advance prep fool you — all you have to do for the first few days is change the water twice a day, morning and night. The hard part, once you become as fond of them as we are, is waiting for the days to pass…

Ingredients

2 cups whole green moong dal

1 rough-chopped (organic) tomato

1 chopped (organic) cucumber and/or raw zucchini

1 chopped (organic) yellow onion

3 cloves chopped (organic) garlic

1 finely chopped small green chili

2 Tbls coriander seeds or powder

1 1/2 Tbl cumin seeds or powder

2 Tbls brown mustard seeds

3 Tbls chopped fresh cilantro

Juice from 2 freshly squeezed limes

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Optional:  3 Tbls toor (yellow) dal, split

Optional: Grated (organic) carrot

Directions

Place the beans in a vessel with some room in it for expansion and cover with water for 3 days. Twice every day, rinse and replace the water — once at morning and once at night.

On the third day, the beans will be bubbly and look like these (Maya loved the bubbles, and kept poking them):

On the third day, you’re ready! Over low to medium heat in a deep saucepan, saute the onions, garlic and spices. Drain and add the beans to the pan, stirring in the spices and salt and pepper, and warm them through. Remove from the heat.

Optional addition: roast the toor dal in a small amount of oil in a separate pan and set it aside. This adds texture and crunch, but is not completely necessary.

Add the tomatoes, cucumber and zucchini, carrots, and last the fresh cilantro and fresh lime juice and combine. Top with another shake of salt and pepper. Serve while still slightly warm.

Salmon Burgers with Basil and Orange

It’s summer, and the real question most evenings is what easy, healthy meal I can throw together right after work that we can pack up for a short evening excursion to the pool.

These simple, Omega-3 rich salmon burgers certainly fit the bill. They take only 5 minutes to mix and another 10 at most to cook, and can be packed up on top of some fresh spinach and diced tomatoes and eaten with a fork, or thrown unceremoniously into a sliced wholegrain bun with a smear of mayo or tartar sauce.

I do pan-fry them, because they would be a little delicate to grill unless you used a (stainless steel) grill pan. Once they cook a little, they tend to hold together decently well.

As a bonus, Maya loves these, and it’s not easy to get a toddler to eat fish!

Ingredients:

1 can (wild-caught) salmon (the BPA-free brands are: Oregon’s Choice, Wild Planet, Vital Choice and Eco-fish)

2 (organic, pastured) eggs

1 Tbl (organic) dijon mustard

6 Tbls (organic) Panko bread crumbs (these do exist; I found them in the organic specialty section at Whole Foods)

1 (organic) orange, sliced in half and one-half juiced

2 Tbls chopped fresh (organic) basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar for finishing

Directions:

Empty the can of salmon into a bowl and pick out the small bones. Add mustard, basil, orange juice, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper. Let the mixture sit while you warm the pan with a generous amount of olive oil.

Form into patties and fry in the oil, turning infrequently. Makes about 8 patties.

Serve over bed of greens, such as fresh spinach, topped with a squeeze of the other side of the orange, and a dribble of balsamic vinegar, with a side of (organic) tartar sauce, or on a bun.

Delicious Avocado Jicama Fennel Summer Salad

I love chunky salads of varied textures. You could put this over a bed of (additional) greens, but there’s no real need to do so. The creaminess of the avocado and the burst of citrus are in good balance here. The ingredients basically are the instructions:

Matchsticks of 1/2 jicama (this is impossible to find, in my experience, in an organic version)

1 diced ripe (organic) avocado

1 diced (ripe, organic) tomato

1 generous handful each fresh (organic) spinach and cilantro, chopped

1 peeled and diced (organic) cucumber (seeds are fine, or omit as you prefer)

1/4 sliced and chopped (organic) fennel bulb

Juice of one (organic) lime or lemon, fresh squeezed, and champagne vinegar or a generous splash of something like this citrus champagne vinegar

2 Tbl (organic) decent olive oil

Salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Toss and enjoy!

A Salad with Soul: Roja’s Couscous Tossed Green Salad

Most salads, in my view, are insipid, unremarkable little creatures – hardly worthy of mention, must less a recipe. It’s harder to find an interesting salad than it is to find an honest politician.

So imagine my pleasant surprise when my dear friend Roja Najafi, on a family vakay with us, tricked us into eating her delicious couscous affair on not just one but several nights. In a row. Impressive, indeed.

After my plea for this recipe, on the theory that it might continue to work its magic for my family’s willingness to consume raw greenery, Roja was kind enough to share it, with pictures, instructions and even a soulful blessing, wonderfully enough.

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Roja’s Couscous Salad with Saffron & Beets

This is a very humble recipe, and by this I mean it tolerates change and welcomes creativity. I drastically change the ingredients based on the poverty or prosperity of my fridge. Couscous, saffron, beet, lime/lemon juice and fresh herbs are the constant actors of this play!

The Way I Do It: I rinse all vegetables, fruits, and grains, before cooking, chopping, and eating. For this salad, I chop the veggies finely. I usually use less salt and more black pepper compared to the normal taste.

Ingredients:

1 cup of dry couscous (prepare couscous according to the package directions. I add couscous to the boiling water with a dash of salt, 1tablespoon olive oil & ¼ tablespoon ground Saffron.)

2 average carrots, (grind or chop finely.)

2 average beets, (boil for 20min or until tender. Chop when it is not hot.)

1cup of lentils, (cooked, I switch between black beans and lentils.)

½ cup of chopped almond (you can go by any nuts of your choice or non at all.)

1 average cucumber (slice it as you wish, I chop it finely.)

½ cup of fresh mint (or any aromatic herbs you have available: cilantro, parsley, basil, work well with this salad.)

1 head of lettuce (chopped)

2-3 fresh lime or lemon, (juice it fresh!)

Vinegar (use it as much as you like and any kind you wish.)

Salt & Black Pepper (I go with more pepper and less salt.)

3-4 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

Fresh Fruits: If I have available fresh fruits at home I always add them to this salad. I have liked the result with fresh apples, peaches, grapefruits and nectarines.

Directions:

1- Prepare your couscous based on the basic recipe on the package.  While the water is boiling, or immediately after you add the couscous to the boiling water, add saffron!

2- Cook the beets. Let it cool down and chop after cooling.

3- Cook the lentils. Add a bit of salt if you wish. Drain the extra water.

4- Grind or chop the carrots, place them on the bottom of your serving dish and add vinegar. Let the carrots sit in the vinegar while you are chopping the rest of the veggies. If you’s like, add onions to this salad by mixing them with the carrots and soaking them in the vinegar. This basically cooks the carrots and onions in the acid.

5- Prepare the rest of your veggies and mix them up. Add them to the carrots. Add the beets and lentils. Add your fresh fruits now! Pour the lemon/lime juice on your fresh fruits.

6- Keep couscous for last. After adding the couscous, pour the olive oil on the top. Add salt and black pepper to your liking. Mix well!

7- Enjoy! Noush-e Jaan! (Sweet to Your Soul!) Bon Appétit!