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I am always concerned that with our busy lives we won’t be able to eat healthily. It’s always rushing from one thing to another. So how to ensure that you can always have a quick meal in a few minutes? In the olden days – pre Plant-Strong – I’d use eggs and cheese as staples. Yes, I can make a sandwich but I wanted a meal.

There are two strategies. One is your store cupboard, ie what you shop for and have in and the second is to cook when you have time such as at weekends.

This recipe came about in one of those circumstances. The need for a lunch when I had nothing obvious to eat.

I looked into the larder and found one of the packs I have of cooked black beluga lentils. Perfect. I keep those pouches with cooked lentils, grains, quinoa, brown rice etc. ok so they are not the best value – you are paying for CONVENIENCE. Someone else has cooked them for you.

I always keep a supply of plant based mayonnaise and vinaigrette (see previous recipes) and flavoured vinegars as well as a good quality balsamic vinegar (you don’t have to pay a lot-you can get good ones in Aldi or Lidl).

In less than 5 minutes I was tucking into a very satisfying, filling and healthy lunch.

Ingredients (makes 2 generous portions).

1 pack of cooked Black Beluga Lentils (Merchant Gourmet is a good brand).
A few torn leaves of fresh Basil (use a quarter of a teaspoon of dried if not or leave out).
1/2 a Cucumber (roughly chopped)
4 Ribs of Celery (finely chopped)
1 Avocado (stone removed and diced)
4-6 Tomatoes (medium size)
1 Tbsp Fake Parmesan (see recipe) (Fake Parmesan)
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 small handful of Pine nuts
20 Olives (any colour/type)
1 x Medium Red Onion, finely chopped

Method –
Mix all ingredients in a large salad bowl. Douse with balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with torn basil and Parmesan.

If you want this to go a bit further then serve it on a bed of shredded lettuce or fresh spinach, tossed in a a little vinaigrette.

You can ring the changes with this “express salad” by changing the grains and adding stuff like shredded chicory, grated carrot etc.

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