With the weather starting to turn warmer, even if only sporadically and for 2-3 days out of every month in the UK, this weekend was so beautiful that it just wasn’t soupy weather! I decided to make a nice salad instead – my staple lunch during the summer months being a plate of different mixed salads like those you might see in a health food/wholefood cafe.
You can use green or brown lentils in this salad and these types are especially good in salads and casseroles because they hold their shape well after cooking (yellow and red lentils or split peas have a tendency to go mushy making them better in soups and dahls). They also lend it a really nice crunchy texture and nutty flavour which goes beautifully with the crunchy fresh veggies and parsley.
I would eat this salad as a meal on its own, maybe with a tbsp. of low fat hummus, lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and ½ pitta bread. I have eaten it on the side of a main meal such as baked fish or chicken, lasagne, moussaka or as part of a salad plate with other salads in which case I would have 1-2 tbsps. of salad rather than a large plateful. I have included the nutritional information for the whole recipe here so that you can make your own calculations if you decide to portion the salad differently; e.g. if you were to eat it on the side of a main meal rather than as a salad meal in its own right.Lentils are high in fibre, protein and a multitude of vitamins and minerals including iron, folate and calcium. They are low in fat and, because of the high fibre and protein contents, they can really help your stomach to feel fuller for longer making them a great addition to a lunch time meal as this can curb those afternoon snack cravings.
Normally you would find lentils dried and sold in bags ready for cooking although some supermarkets and specialist food stores such as south Asian supermarkets sell them already cooked in cans. I have used dried lentils so I needed to cook them – if you used canned lentils just miss out the first step and be aware that the canning process probably added extra salt to the overall nutritional content as a preservative.
200g dried green lentils or 2 cans cooked, drained green lentils (480g)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped (or equivalent amount of chopped spring onions)
1 garlic clove, finely diced
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1.5 tbsp. white wine or cider vinegar
1 tsp. runny honey
2 tsp. lemon juice
Some grated lemon zest (optional)
Ground black pepper
1. Place the lentils in a saucepan with 3 times the amount of cold water as lentils. Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat and boil gently for 35 – 45 minutes, or until the lentils are soft but retain a bit of crunch. Remove from heat, drain off the water and allow to cool for later.
2. Finely chop the vegetables and parsley – these will stay raw so small is better unless you particularly like to eat large chunks of raw onion! Mix these together in a big bowl.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, vinegar, honey, lemon juice, lemon zest (if using) and black pepper. Make sure the honey is well blended with the rest of the ingredients.
4. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and add the cooked lentils once they have cooled sufficiently.
5. Stir everything together and put the salad in the fridge for an hour or two to allow the dressing to infuse the vegetables with flavour.
per whole recipe
Energy 870 kcal / 3645 kJ
Total sugar 31.7g
Salt 0.1g (check canned lentils for added salt)
per serving (if serving 4)
Energy 220 kcal / 911 kJ
Total sugar 7.9g
Salt Trace (check canned lentils for added salt)
I had a massive hankering for some Heinz cream of tomato soup today but we had my partner’s daughter staying with us and I didn’t want to give her anything out of a tin so we decided to cook our own. This was a really simple soup to make with a 6 year old and delicious to boot – I wasn’t expecting it to be lapped up quite as fast as it was! We scoffed it with some brown bread rolls filled with homemade garlic and parsley butter – nom!
2-3 squirts of spray corn/vegetable/olive oil or a few drops of olive/vegetable oil
1 medium red pepper (150g)
½ red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (3g)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (5g)
1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)
1 x medium red onion, peeled and diced (150g)
2 cans peeled plum tomatoes (800g)
600ml vegetable stock (made with 10g vegetable stock cube)
130g reduced fat fromage frais
1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped (20g)
Black pepper to taste
- Spray the whole red pepper with the spray oil and massage (sensually!) all over (the pepper, not yourself!) or put a few drops of regular oil into the palm of your hand and spread this all over the pepper.
- Heat the oven to approximately 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and roast the pepper for 15-20 minutes, until soft. Remove from oven and set aside until cooled.
- In a large saucepan heat 1 tbsp.oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with their flavour. Add the chopped onion and fry for approximately 10 minutes, until slightly browned and softened.
- Deseed the roasted red pepper and chop into small pieces. Add to the onion and fry for approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the stock and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and simmer for around 20 minutes.
- Add the fromage frais and stir into the soup. Use a hand blender to blend the soup until smooth.
- Return to a low heat and add the ground black pepper and basil. Stir into the soup.
Energy 460 kcal (1926 kJ)
Total sugars 46.5g
Per Serving (Serves 4)
Energy 115 kcal (482 kJ)
Total sugars 11.6g
¼ pre-packed garlic bread (french baguette style) = 150 kcal / 630 kJ
1 x white or brown crusty bread roll (50g) = 130 kcal / 545 kJ
1 x toasted pitta bread white or brown (60g) = 170 kcal / 712 kJ
***If you wanted a more substantial soup***
Cook 200g of red split peas/lentils in boiling water as the red pepper is roasting, until they are softened. Add these to the soup before you blend it – you may need to add extra water. This would add 160 kcal / 670 kJ per portion.
Suggested Ear Candy
I had a 6 year old with me who really doesn’t get my musical tastes so we had a singalong instead to some of her fave Disney classics…sorry about this straying from the ususal formula!!!
After that we listened to Absolute 80s radio – much more my cuppa tea and definitely more bearable!
Suggested Alternatives (albeit, with very loose links)