Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lentil, Quinoa, Kale & Tofu Salad with Lemony Tahini Dressing

Do you try to eat the so-called super foods regularly? Do you think they're over-hyped or hold true to their nutritional claims?

Sometimes I do think certain food trends end up overly hyped, but probably with cause. I don't think anyone will argue that lentils or kale are bad for us. Well, actually, if you have blood clotting issues, then excessive amounts of kale could be an issue because it is high in vitamin K, a natural coagulant.

But, that aside, super foods are nutrient-dense foods. They are often cleansing as well as offering healthy doses of minerals and nutrients our bodies need. For example, lentils are a fantastic source of iron, folate, thiamin, and manganese. Quinoa is also a great source for manganese as well as magnesium and even protein. So, why not combine some of these ingredients for a nutritionally dense salad?

I had on hand some cooked lentils so I thought I would try pairing those with a massaged kale salad. I wanted to "beef" up the protein so I added tofu to the mix and decided to go with quinoa for additional protein and staying power. Plus, quinoa is super fast to cook if you don't already have some made up and on hand.

Since I finally got over my massaged kale phobia, I've been making it more frequently with lemon juice and sea salt. But I love the idea of a creamy dressing as well, and thought it would go nicely with this type of salad so I made up some lemony tahini dressing.

I wish I could be super creative with a fun, catchy name. But, well, I'm not. So I'm calling this one as it is: Lentil, Quinoa, Kale & Tofu Salad with Lemony Tahini Dressing.



Lentil, Quinoa, Kale & Tofu Salad with Lemony Tahini Dressing
Ingredients:
1 bunch kale, cleaned, de-stemmed torn into small pieces
2-3 carrots thinly cut/shaved
1 cup cooked lentils
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (I used combo of red and white)
Juice of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons, depending on size
Zest of 1 lemon
2-3 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp olive oil
To taste: lemon salt, or coarse sea salt
2 tsps agave nectar or honey (or to taste)
2 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 cup orange juice (more if needed for consistency)
1 package extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into four pieces (in half and lengthwise)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl massage kale with juice of 1/2 - 1 lemon (depending on size) with salt, set aside for approximately 10-15 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest, remaining lemon juice, orange juice, tahini, olive oil, pinch of salt, agave, and parsley and set aside.

Use part of the dressing as a marinade for the tofu allowing it to marinate 30 minutes or longer. Bake tofu at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, flip and continue to bake until brown and firm. Then cube into bite-sized pieces after it has cooled.

Meanwhile, pour the rest of the dressing over the kale, adding in the carrots, lentils, and quinoa. Re-season if needed. Once the tofu has cooled, add to the salad and toss gently.

This turned out maybe better than I had expected actually. Jason was actually quite impressed with it as well. Let's just say there were no leftovers to be had.

What are some of your favorite super foods?