As soon as I see the first primroses for sale in their little pots in the grocery stores, my heart cannot help but sing and start to feel the stirrings of spring.
No matter that, outside, everything is covered in a deep blanket of snow and the calendar and thermometer say we are still solidly entrenched in winter's clutches. I am feeling that little flutter that starts me dreaming of things a-greening. It's getting just a teeny bit lighter in the mornings now (I can see the the yellow of the schoolbus in the grey haze of dawn), and the air has a brighter feel to it. I'm starting to think of seeds, and gardens, and flowers.
I know winter's far from over, and we'll have a few good snowstorms yet, but I have that hopeful feeling.
So I fill my longing with bright bouquets and inhale their essence and promise.
Buzzing around in my kitchen is so much more fun when I have these sunshiny petals to cheer me.
And buzzing I have been, coming up with all kinds of lentil-lovin' ideas for the Canadian Lentils Recipe Challenge. It's been a lot of fun, and here is my latest recipe for a fresh and springy salad that suits our winter world.
It's a combination of all the best elements of our favourite traditional broccoli salad - crisp broccoli of course, and red onions, raisins, and smoky lentils instead of bacon, combined with the great elements of a classic Waldorf salad - apples, celery, and walnuts. When you tie it all together with a creamy dressing laced with a hit of lemon - it's light enough for spring and sturdy enough for winter.
Just right for where we are now.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: Cooking the lentils with a touch of smoked paprika gives them a lovely smokiness - you won't even miss the bacon. (Plus, lentils have tons more fiber than bacon, less fat, and a great amount of protein and nutrients!)
While toasting the walnuts, make a few extra and have them on hand for my favourite breakfast with Greek yogurt and honey.
For vegan broccoli lentil salad, use egg free mayonnaise and a non-dairy yogurt. I've made it that way, too, and it was delicious.
- ½ cup (100gms) French green lentils
- ½ teaspoon smoked mild paprika
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- 4 cups (1 litre) broccoli florets, about 2 crowns, cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup (half of a medium) diced red onion
- ½ cup (70gms) raisins
- ½ cup (50gms) toasted walnuts* (see below)
- ½ cup diced celery, about 2 stalks
- 1 crisp apple
for the dressing:
- ½ cup ( 120ml) mayonnaise
- ¼ cup (60ml) plain yogurt
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
Combine the lentils, paprika, bay leaf, and water in a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and simmer the lentils for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are tender. Remove the lid, and cook for several minutes longer until you can see that all the water has been absorbed, when you stir the lentils.
Leave the lentils to cool. The lentils can be prepared up to several days ahead and kept refrigerated.
*While the lentils are cooking, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the walnuts in a small pan and toast them for 10 to 12 minutes, until they turn golden and fragrant. Allow to cool. Break the walnuts into smaller pieces with your fingers (chopping makes them too fine).
Chop the broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces.
Dice the onion and celery, and core and dice the apple into ½ to ¾ inch (1 -1.5 cm) pieces.
Place the cooled, cooked lentils and the rest of the salad ingredients into a large bowl.
Prepare the dressing by whisking together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss it all to coat everything.
This salad can be made several hours ahead and kept refrigerated - it's best if it has at least 30 minutes to rest and meld flavours.
Serve on lettuce leaves and with extra lemon wedges, if desired.
I created this Broccoli Lentil Salad recipe for the Canadian Lentil Recipe Revelations Challenge.
You might also like some of the other lentil recipes I created for their contest: