Pantry Basics: Curried Couscous and Red Lentil Salad

I'm not sure if I'm a victim of bad planning, but I'm often left with a bare cupboard and only a few things left in the crisper. When faced with limited choices in the kitchen, some call for take-out immediately. Not me. I like to see if I can still be inspired by the leftovers and lonely bits in my fridge and pantry. I like a challenge.

This salad is the result from one of those empty cupboard inspirations. It's a hearty lunchtime salad and could be super flexible depending on what ingredients you had on hand. I used red lentils but toothsome French green lentils or chickpeas would be nice here. Plus you could sub in any vegetables that catch your fancy. Like fresh raw spinach! Or lightly steamed cauliflower! I loved the crunch and colour of the julienned carrots and the sweetness of the red pepper.

I usually veer towards tart dressings, but felt this salad could stand up to a curry vinaigrette. The warm spiciness of the garam masala provides a nice base for the bright flavour of the lemon juice. To round out things out, a touch of agave syrup for sweetness and I punch up the heat with my favorite hot sauce, sriracha. Not too shabby for a meal when there seemed to be nothing left in the kitchen.

Curried Couscous and Red Lentil Salad
1 cup red lentils
1 bay leaf
1 cup israeli couscous
1 carrot, julienned
1 large red pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 green onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon garam masala curry paste (powder would be fine too)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon agave syrup
a few squirts of sriracha
a good pinch of kosher salt

In a medium sized saucepan, add lentils and bay leaf to cold water and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer until tender but not mushy, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and discard bay leaf. At the same time, cook up the couscous according to package directions and steam until tender. Drain any water.

Meanwhile, slice and dice your vegetables and place in a medium sized bowl. When the couscous and lentils have cooked, toss with the vegetables.

Using a lidded jar, shake together the remaining ingredients and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary and pour over the warm salad. Toss and combine well. Serve warm or cold. Makes 2 large servings or 4 side servings.

By Jeannette Ordas of Everybody likes Sandwiches

Jan Halvarson


gebrichi said...

Oh, great. All I've got on had is couscous, carrots and a tin of lentils. So guess what I'm making for my lunch today??


Lindsay [rookie's nest] said...

Mmm looks amazing - I love that someone else out there will try to use up what they have in their cupboards & fridge, I do that too! It is probably a good thing b/c I have a bad habit of altering recipes to my own taste/what's on hand! x

Pinecone Camp said...

This recipe will be first on the list, after tonight's game. Must start eating properly again! No more fries, beer,etc. Jeannette, it looks so good!

chelsea lyn said...

yummy! i cant wait to try this recipe out. i love curried anything!