Tangy Lentil & Roasted Eggplant Green Salad
Every Tuesday is my cooking night at home. Monday night is Hunny’s night and Wednesday night is Jan’s night, and then the rest of the week we have the freedom to do our own thing, although more times than not we end up around the kitchen table giggling and chatting - catching up on the days past and the HUSTLE of Uni life. This Tuesday, however, something especially yummy and delicious was concocted. Something that has now secured a firm and loving seat in my “up the sleeve” recipes for when you don’t know what to make, or if you’re having someone over for dinner last minute or or if you’ve been asked to cater for something unexpectedly.
This recipe is perfectly savory, flavorsome and hearty. It’s a fantastic recipe for a work, school or University take-away-from-home lunch, or a sun-kissed picnic bring-and-share meal. The grain used in this recipe to accompany the salad is Sorghum. Sorghum has officially ranked itself as “favorite grain” in my books (even over brown rice and Basmati rice and that’s saying somethin’). Let’s talk about Sorghum for un momento (literally don’t know a word of Spanish, but I Google Translated it so I am hoping that is right).
Sorghum is an ancient grain. What is an ancient grain? Although there is no official definition of “ancient grain”, it has come to mean: a grain that it hasn’t been modified and tampered with like most modern grains of our day and age. Other examples of ancient grains are things like: Farro, Quinoa, Kamut, Teff, Spelt etc. Sorghum was first collected in Egypt around 8000 years ago, it then spread all throughout Africa becoming a staple grain for most communities. The colors of Sorghum vary greatly ranging from beige, white and brown to deep reds and purples. It is naturally gluten-free which makes it a big hit in the GF (gluten-free) markets and communities around the world. It is also a nutritionally dense grain – particularly because it is eaten hull-and-all, unlike other grains where the hull is removed which by default strips some of the nutrients from the grain. The waxy layer on the outer edge of the grain contains a compound known as policosanols which have been known to/suggested to aid in cardiac/heart health. Another key component of Sorghum in being a healthy grain choice is the fact that it is high in antioxidants. Did I mention it is also high in fiber? And B6? And protein? Iron and phosphorus?
Sorghum is great as is, whole and intact. But, it doesn’t stop there. It is quite a versatile grain particularly when it is turned into flour and can then be used in baking and cooking in myriad of ways. When used as a flour it can be used in cookies, breads, pancakes, and even noodles! Some more ways to use the grain whole is: in salads, as a base to a meal as a substitute for rice or pasta, as a morning nutrient-dense porridge. Feeling lost for ideas on how to eat Sorghum? You can check out this website dedicated to SORGHUM: http://www.simplysorghum.com/recipes (just veganize any non-vegan recipes, obvs).
FUN FACT: You can even POP Sorghum like Popcorn!
Anyway, back to the delicious recipe. I’ve coupled the ingredients in (mostly) their separate components to make up the whole dish:
· 1 cup dry Sorghum
· 3 cups water
· ½ teaspoon salt
· 1 medium-large eggplant, cubed and roasted on parchment paper in a 180-degree oven (can roast without oil to make it healthier and oil-free, or you can cook it in some olive oil)
· 3 zucchinis/2 cup chopped, I sliced them lengthways once and then cut them so they made demi-circle rounds
· 1 tablespoon soy sauce
· 1 tablespoon water
· 1 teaspoon thyme
· 2 cups finely chopped broccoli
· 1 cup finely chopped red cabbage
· ½ cup frozen green peas
· 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
· 2 cups cooked lentils
· 4 scallions/green onions/spring onions
· 2 cups packed chopped and washed raw spinach
· ½ avocado
· 2 tablespoons toasted sesame tahini
· 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce
· 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
· ½ green chili, chopped finely
· Lemon (optional)
· Herb of choice (optional)
1. To start, bring the 3 cups of water to the boil and then place the one cup of dry Sorghum into the pot. Let it boil for a minute or two and then turn it down to a high-end simmer, place the lid slightly ajar on top of the pot and cook until tender but still chewy/holding its’ form. This can take up to 50-60 minutes.
2. In the meantime, chop up the eggplant, lightly salt it and get it into your oven to roast while you continue preparing the rest of the goods.
3. Now to prepare the zucchinis - cut up the zucchini and place them in a frying pan with the 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of water along with the dried thyme. Cook until tender but still slightly crunchy (to help retain nutrients and to add texture to the salad).
4. While the zucchini is cooking, bring another pot with some water to the boil. As it is coming to the boil finely chop the broccoli. Give it a rinse and then add it to the boiling water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute just until the color becomes bright green and the broccoli is tender (but also still slightly crunchy: when cooking vegetables you want to avoid cooking them to the point of being limp and “dead”). Now add your peas to the broccoli and water. Once the peas have been added, immediately take the pot over to the basin/sink to strain. Run under cold water to prevent the vegetables from cooking any further.
5. In a bowl, add the zucchini and broccoli & peas together. Mix well and add ¼ - ½ teaspoon ground Himalayan sea salt.
6. Add in diced avocado, chopped red cabbage, finely chopped scallions and chopped spinach. Add in toasted sesame seeds. Mix well.
7. Once the lentils and eggplant are cooked and cooled down, add them to the mix.
8. Now to prepare the sauce: mix the tahini, soy sauce, half green chili, and red wine vinegar together and stir until emulsified.
9. Pour over the salad and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. It can also be delicious to add in some freshly squeezed lemon juice and an herb of choice (suggested herbs: basil, thyme, oregano or marjoram).
10. Check on the Sorghum. Once tender, drain it too and place in a serving bowl alongside the salad.
11. TUCK IN AND ENJOY <3
Sending much love to you all,