Vegan Mediterranean Kale Salad with Lentils, Red Onion, Orange Bell Pepper and Sunflower Seeds with Sumac Vinaigrette

Yield: 4 servings

I don’t need much of an excuse to create new kale recipes.  But I actually did have a good one: school started Monday with an in-service week for teachers and I needed something healthy and filling to pack for lunch.

I create this salad on Sunday–inspired by my foodie friend Trish Pfeifer’s love of sumac (this was the first time I ever cooked with it and I’m now a fan)–and took it a couple of days ago to share with my art teacher colleages, Mylinda McKinney and Sara Reich,.  They loved it!

Mylinda had brought boiled peanuts and fresh cherries, so we pooled our resources for a quirky but delicious and nutritious–not to mention brightly colored–school lunch.

Salad:

Approximately 9 ounces of steamed lentils (I purchase them at Trader Joe’s in the produce department)

1/2 cup diced red onion (you can soak for about 20-30 minutes in unsweetened soymilk to remove a little of their peppery bite if you choose)

1 medium orange bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice (a yellow or red bell pepper would be just fine)

4 lightly packed cups kale, very finely chopped (I use a food processor for this task)

1/2 cup roasted and lightly salted sunflower seeds

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sumac Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon ground sumac (found in Middle Eastern/Mediterranean markets)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch sea salt

Pinch garlic powder

Combine all salad ingredients in a medium bowl.  In a small cup or bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients.  Drizzle dressing over salad and toss gently to distribute dressing.  Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, and serve chilled.

Note: I think some diced plump dried apricots would be a lovely addition to this dish; maybe a half cup or so.

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