|Pomegranate, Mint and Beluga Lentil Salad|
I feel like celebrating. Why? Because I was walking along my normal route last night and heard the waves lapping against the shoreline for the first time in months. Yes, there are still ice floes bobbing up and down out there, but still – waves. I love the sound of waves. Today, I also noticed that the ground is more green than white. So while my friends in Seattle are posting pictures of blooming forsythia and daffodils and magnolia (you know who you are my dear people), I will settle for the few tiny buds I see forming on the ends of branches, the signs of weeds working their way up through the thawing soil and the grass emerging under the mostly melted snow.
If I had grown up in a place with serious winters, this might seem commonplace. But every year I feel a sense of dread as the cold days arrive (the darkness doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the cold). And every year, I am first in line to celebrate even the smallest indication that yes indeed, we’ve made it through another one, and Spring is on its way. And I am probably one of the first to break out my summer dresses and flip flops as the days start to get longer and brighter and warmer.
|Pomegranate: one of the most beautiful fruits I’ve ever seen.|
Which means pretty soon it’ll be summer, and maybe then it will be hot around here. And if it’s hot, we’ll be needing a long list of salad options that include items fresh from the garden, including vast quantities of mint – about the only thing that grows with great abundance all over the place, especially in the spots in which it has not been planted, but nevertheless wishes to take over. And there I am, applying human emotion to things in nature, an error my college English professor would have called “pathetic fallacy”, and would have reminded me that an inanimate object, in truth, never actually wishes anything or thinks at all. But never mind, Spring and it’s abundance of mint and other green things does strange things to our behavior, so I’ll forgive myself that little slip.
Mint is one of the few things this salad has in common with the warmer months. Otherwise, this salad highlights the jewel-like pomegranate, still abundant now; the earthy lentils that are harvested each fall, and is flavored with lemon and orange, arguably fruits of Winter but available anytime.
I made this salad for dinner and served it with whole grain sunflower seed sourdough on the side. It’d work well as a side salad too, but with the abundance of legumes, vegetables and seeds, it’s perfectly filling on its own. So make the best of the last of the Winter produce – we’ll be dining on rhubarb, strawberries and asparagus soon.
|The colors are ready for a celebration too…|
Pomegranate, Mint and Beluga Lentil Salad
1/2 cup / 1 dl dried Beluga Lentils
2 cups / 500 ml water
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1/2 English cucumber, diced (about 1 cup)
10 Brussels sprouts, halved, core removed, thinly sliced
1/4 cup / 1/2 dl mint leaves, roughly chopped
seeds from 1/2 pomegranate*
2 tablespoon raw sunflower seeds
juice of one lemon
zest of one orange
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the lentils in a fine sieve. Combine the lentils and water in a small pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
While the lentils cook, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, reserving a few mint leaves and pomegranate seeds for garnish. When the lentils are ready, drain through a fine sieve, then pour the hot lentils directly onto the vegetables. Stir well to combine.
Salad may be served immediately as a warm salad, or refrigerated and served later. It travels well, and can be made up to one day ahead if you want to make it for lunch the next day or for a picnic or potluck.
Serves 2 as a main course.
*To deseed a pomegranate, roll it around on the countertop, pressing down lightly as you hear a slight popping sound. Cut the pomegranate in half around the middle i.e. “equator” just deep enough to puncture the skin. Using your fingertips, and holding the pomegranate over a bowl to catch any drips or wayward seeds, pull the two halves apart. Set one half on the countertop. Use your fingers again to break the pomegranate open slightly. Then hold the pomegranate half, seed side down, in your open palm with your fingers spread open. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, rap the top of the pomegranate firmly to knock the juicy seeds out and into the waiting bowl. Continue until most of the seeds are removed. There are always the stubborn few you’ll need to remove with your fingers, but most will fall easily into the bowl. Remove any wait pith that has fallen into the bowl. Continue happily with the recipe.