Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lentil & Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese & Walnuts

When you tell a non-vegetarian, you're a vegetarian or vegan, a common question is "But how do you get your protein?"  I'm switching gyms, and just started working with a great trainer (it's already a love-hate relationship), who asked me to keep a food diary for a few days.  She returned my food diary with the word "PROTEIN?" written at the top.  "You need more protein," she said "and cut out all the carbs and sugar." Yikes!  Having gone gluten-free 6 months ago, I've already cut out most of my carbs.  And, heck,  I only had the tootsie rolls and mini-peanut butter cups because it was Halloween!  But I love a culinary challenge and was inspired to make this delicious lentil salad with roasted asparagus, creamy goat cheese, and chopped walnuts.

I'm quite fond of Trader Joe's pre-cooked steamed lentils (in the refrigerator section), as they are a great time-saver (and 1/2 cup has 9 grams of protein).  If you decide to use dried lentils for this, I recommend you simmer them in a 50/50 blend of water and vegetable broth to add some flavor to the lentils (about 35 minutes for green or brown lentils). I roasted the asparagus with Meyer Lemon olive oil, but you could also use a lemon olive oil or plain. If you are vegan or not a goat cheese fan, leave the cheese out and add a few more chopped walnuts.

Lentil & Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese & Walnuts:

1 bunch asparagus
Lemon olive oil (or plain)
pinch of salt
lemon juice
1 cup cooked lentils (I used Trader Joe's steamed)
1/8 tsp citrus champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 TBS crumbled goat cheese
1 TBS chopped walnuts
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400. Remove the woody ends of the asparagus by breaking them where they naturally break.  Place in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with the lemon olive oil and a pinch of salt. (Use tongs to make sure the asparagus is evenly coated.)  Roast in the over for about 20 minutes, tossing the asparagus with tongs after 10 minutes, until the thick ends of the asparagus are easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife (resist over-cooking - you don't want it to be mushy). Allow the asparagus to cool.

Cut the asparagus into 1 inch rounds and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over it. Add the lentils, vinegar, goat cheese (if using) and chopped walnuts.  Taste, and add salt and pepper, as desired.  Enjoy!


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