Healthy recipe: Sun-baked tomato, lentil and Tuscan kale salad with roast

This salad is a main dish that pulls out all the stops. Nutrient-rich lentils, delicious roast chicken, and creamy feta cheese, paired with fresh leafy greens and sun-dried tomatoes. This single meal is nutritious, nutritionally balanced and full of flavor. Best of all, it’s made in large quantities because it stores well – in fact, the flavor gets better overnight. It makes a great dinner and an even better healthy lunch.

Lentils are rich in protein (a third of your daily needs in one cup!), dietary fiber, and other essential nutrients, especially B-vitamins. With more than a dozen varieties, flavors can range from nutty to peppery to meaty or umami flavors. An array of colors and textures when cooked, they can thicken a sauce or add chewy excitement to a salad or fish dish. Lentils can even be sprouted on windowsills to make a leafy crunchy sandwich or salad topping.

Lentils are a great pantry staple because they can be stored for years, don’t require soaking, and cook in less than 30 minutes. They are an affordable source of good quality nutrients.

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

1/2 tsp olive brine

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless, skinless

For lentils:

1 ½ pounds green lentils, drained

2 bay leaves

1 clove garlic, large

Half a bunch of Tuscan kale,

6 sun-dried tomatoes, dried in water with 3 tbsp reserved oil, minced

4 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

¼ lb. feta cheese, shredded or cubed, reserving 1 Tbp for garnish

Instructions:

Combine lemon zest and juice, garlic, olive brine and olive oil in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Score the chicken thighs with two slits, then add to the marinade and toss in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate to marinate. Toss occasionally.

Preheat oven to 425.

In a large saucepan, bring 6 cups of water to a boil and then add the dried lentils, bay leaves and whole garlic cloves. Return to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cook the lentils like pasta, checking regularly to make sure they are not overcooked. If any lentils start to break – the lentils are cooked and should be removed from the heat. Once cooked, strain the lentils well and keep aside.

While the lentils are cooking, remove their stalks. Discard the stems (they can be stored in the fridge for stock or smoothies) and set the leaves aside in large stacks. Once all the leaves are stripped and stacked, roll the stack into a tight cylinder. and cut crosswise to make uniform thin ribbons. Cut any very long stipes in half and then transfer the stipes to a large bowl. Massage with a pinch of salt until the kale feels tender. Set aside.

Make salad dressing by mixing ½ teaspoon salt, minced sun-dried and reserved sun-dried tomato oil, minced garlic, 3 tablespoons chopped parsley, and vinegar in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.

Transfer the marinated chicken to a baking sheet and add to the oven. Roast for about 20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 165°F. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. And then cut into 2 inch slices.

When lentils are completely dry, add to large bowl with marinated kale strips and dressing and toss to combine. Top with feta cheese, shredded chicken, and garnish with an additional 1 tablespoon parsley. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6-8 people.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

420 calories

37 grams of protein

18 grams of total fat

4.5 grams of saturated fat

Cholesterol 135 mg

28 grams of carbohydrates

7 grams of fiber

Total sugars are 3 grams

0 grams of added sugars

Sodium 320 mg

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