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Friday, December 12, 2014

Green Bean, Pomegranate and Sweet Potato Lentil Salad

So...maybe I'm on a lentil craze lately, but I can't help myself, the fiber content is just too awesome to ignore. I thought about this recipe a lot before I put it together. I wanted to create a salad that was different yet highlighted seasonal produce at their peak. Many of us are recovering from Thanksgiving and markets in America have readily made sweet potatoes and green beans available, so I put them together with some of my favorite ingredients for this satisfying, unique and unforgettable salad. Every ingredient will have you pausing in delightful surprise...who knew that green beans went well with pomegranates? Or sweet potatoes with lentils? Or that you could throw dates and maple syrup into a savory salad? Apparently I did, and I'm so excited to share it with you! A bonus perk is the fact that its paleo, gluten-free and vegan...score!

This is a sophisticated salad for the developed palette..."frou frou" ;)  The portion is just right for my husband and I to lunch on for a few days before its gone. The leftovers are BEAUTIFUL...nothing soggy or wilted, amazing for a salad! It also tastes great cold or at room temperature, which makes it a great picnic or potluck item to take and leave out without worrying about it going bad.

Serves 2 as dinner or 4 as a starter

-2/3 cup dry brown lentils or 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (any color works, I just used brown for color contrast to other ingredients)
-6 cups salted water
-One piece of red onion (optional, but this flavors the lentils while cooking)
-8 ounces (about 2 loosely packed cups) fresh green beans
-1 cup diced sweet potato
-1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
-4 medjool dates
-2 tablespoons thinly slivered red onion
-2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
-1 teaspoon cumin seeds
-1 scant tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1 scant tablespoon maple syrup

To make
-Wash and strain lentils. Place in a a saucepan with salted water and a piece of the onion and bring to a boil. Once mixture is boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 30-35 minutes, or until the lentils are soft with a slight chew.
-While lentils are boiling, wash, stem and chop green beans into 1/2 inch pieces. Bring another pot of simmering water to a boil and drop green beans into the water. Boil for about 2 minutes then immediately strain from hot water and place into a bowl filled with ice and cold water. This is called blanching the beans and prevents them from over cooking to retain their bright green color and a crisp texture. Let the beans cool in the water for a minute then strain well from the water and place into your serving bowl.
-Heat the same saucepan used to boil the beans and saute (I didn't use any oil but you can if you'd like) the chopped sweet potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and stir frequently. Cook for about 5 minutes, until browned on the outside and softened when you taste a piece. Once these are finished cooking, remove the pot from the stove and allow the sweet potatoes to cool completely, then add them to the green beans.
-Add the pomegranate seeds to your serving bowl.
-Pit the medjool dates and then cut into thin, long slivers. I cut about 7-8 slices from each date. Add the slivered date slices to the serving bowl.
-Chop the red onion and add to the serving bowl.
-Break up the walnuts into small pieces and add to the serving bowl.
-Add cumin seeds then drizzle olive oil and maple syrup to the other ingredients and gently mix the salad. Taste and adjust the salt seasoning. Salt really helps bring out the flavors and cut back on the sweetness, so make sure to season properly.
-Serve cold or at room temperature and enjoy!

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