CUMIN SPICED FRENCH LENTIL SALAD WITH ROASTED CARROTS

I've been pretty inspired by the work of Yotam Ottolenghi lately, as I know many of us are.  I've always been intrigued by his beautiful books and recipes, but recently fell in love with his story after hearing him (and Sam Tamimi) on Heritage Radio Network's TASTE MATTERS.  If you know anything about this man, you know his recipes and flavor combinations are LEGIT, both in aesthetic and taste.  He merges his Israeli heritage with the influence of the Western world and a serious understanding of vegetables.  Classic is not a word I would use to describe him, but I mean that in the best way.  He still manages to reflect a sense of cultural appreciation while making some pretty refreshing dishes.

Of all Ottolenghi's talent, I appreciate his boldness most.   Both his recipes and food philosophy don't easily fit into one box.  Although it is often vegetarian, he doesn't abide by that rule exclusively.  You may have noticed I myself have stopped labeling my eating habits as vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, etc.  What feels most important to me is experiencing food in the way that is most satisfying to me and leaving labels aside.  Usually, what feels right to you will resonate with others as well.  

CUMIN SPICED FRENCH LENTIL SALAD WITH ROASTED CARROTS (Gluten-free) Serves 4

LEMON CAPER DRESSING:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a small mixing bowl, combine olive oil, cumin seed, mustard, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 2 garlic cloves.  Add carrots to a foil-lined baking sheet, then drizzle dressing overtop, making sure carrots are well coated.  

*NOTE:I used a bunch organic carrots which are on the smaller size.  If yours are large, I would quarter them lengthwise, or you could just chop them in large chunks and roast that way.  Roasting time will vary.  

Add to oven and roast for 30-35 minutes or until super browned and tender.  Set aside.

While carrots are cooking, add 1.5 cups of lentils to a large saucepan with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and about 4 cups of water.  Bring water to a boil, then reduce to simmer (uncovered) and cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender, but not mushy.  Once finished cooking, strain lentils in a sieve to remove any excess water. Set aside to cool.  

In a small mason jar or bowl, muddle 2 tsp. capers, 1 minced garlic clove until broken down well.  Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon, a good pinch of salt (about 1/2 teaspoon), and a drizzle of olive oil.  Whisk together well. 

Add lentils to a large serving bowl and fold in the caper dressing.  Toss to coat well.  Add shaved onion, fresh mint, and parsley.  Top lentil salad with roasted carrots and a dollop of greek yogurt.  Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper to top.  Serve this salad warm, cold over greens or with toasted bread.  

CLICK HERE TO READ THE RECIPE FOR CUMIN SPICED FRENCH LENTIL SALAD!

RAW KALE CAESAR WITH ROASTED CHICKPEAS

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The new year has been extraordinarily busy for me, and I haven't had a lot of time for extravagant/home-cooked meals. Most of the time, I eat on the go and get whatever I can to tide me over. The few days where I have a minute, I come back to my love of the kale salad. It is a meal I have been eating and re-working for years without ever getting tired of it. For whatever reason, kale salads can be just as comforting to me as my beloved pad thai, just with more work.

All you need to make the kale salad even more special is some spices and homemade dressing. I'm obsessed with any kind of "warm" salad, especially since it's not quite warm enough to pretend it's Spring. Needless to say, this salad is an in between and it's damn good.

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ROASTED SPICED CHICKPEAS OVER KALE CAESAR SALAD    (Gluten-free, Vegan)

CHICKPEAS:

1 can chickpeas, drained

1/4 cup sesame seeds

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon turmeric 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Add drained chickpease to a large mixing bowl.  Mix in all spices, sesame seeds and olive oil with sea salt and pepper.  Use your hands to make sure chickpeas are evenly coated with mixture.  Roast for 40-45 minutes or until crisp and browned.  Set aside to cool.

SALAD:

3/4 cup cashews, raw

1 teaspoon yellow miso

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 garlic cloves, whole

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon nori, chopped

1 teaspoon nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons coconut cream

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon tamari, gluten-free

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 head of kale, de-stremmed and chopped

1/2 avocado, diced

1. Add the first twelve ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend  until smooth.

2.  In a large bowl, add kale, avocado and dresssing.  Mix together with your hands until well combine.  Top with roasted chickpeas and enjoy!

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