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Green Salad with Beluga Black Lentils, Fresh Mozzarella, and Curry Vinaigrette

When the thermometer outside climbs into the 80’s and beyond,  main course salads for a great for dinner. This green salad with beluga black lentils, fresh mozzarella, and curry vinaigrette has plenty of protein making it a perfect dinner for hot days. The curry vinaigrette is a flavorful surprise–make extra to enjoy with another salad.

Green Salad with Beluga Black Lentils, Fresh Mozzarella, and Curry Vinaigrette

Not too long ago I stayed with friends in Santa Barbara California. It’s fun to visit them because they take advantage of the area’s incredible Farmer’s Markets and local produce, and we eat like healthy kings and queens. We fast-walked the beach and did water aerobics class in the pool for exercise and vitamin D. And we rolled in an earthquake looking at each other with startled wide open eyes. Whoa! We found out later that the earthquake’s epicenter was only a couple miles away.

cooked beluga lentils for Green Salad with Beluga Black Lentils, Fresh Mozzarella, and Curry Vinaigrette

We dove into their fridge full of fresh veggies from the Farmer’s Market and cooked dinner together. For breakfast my friend blended up her house smoothie, complete with kale and organic anti-oxidant berry blend from Costco. (Did you hear about the recall of those berries because Hepatitis A that they traced to pomegranate seeds from Turkey?)

We cruised downtown Santa Barbara looking for a vegetarian restaurant with local farm food, asking store clerks and even Google for recommendations. Interesting that Santa Barbara doesn’t seem to have a great vegetarian restaurant. You’d think an area with stellar produce would foster a stellar plant-based restaurant.

Maybe all the locals cook at home like us. If you ask me for the best restaurant here in Park City, I say, “my house.” Seriously.

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Here in Utah we have quite a few excellent vegetarian restaurants. Plus there’s a small natural food warehouse in Salt Lake, sort of a 70s-style funky co-op, in an old brick building around the corner from a Costco. I had to go to Costco for my free Costco Hepatitis A vaccine–yeah, those berries in the Santa Barbara smoothie exposed me to hepatitis and Costco funded the vaccinations. A shot in the arm with a side trip to a funky natural food store–such a deal!

A jar of avocado oil and a package of tiny black beluga lentils from the vegetarian store, a round of mozzarella cheese from Costco, and a bag of gorgeous salad greens from our CSA box this week–and this green salad with beluga black lentils, fresh mozzarella, and curry vinaigrette was born.

Cook the lentils ahead of time so you can throw this salad together in a jiffy. Add whatever fresh veggies you have to a bowl of fresh salad greens. You can top your salad with diced fresh mozzarella cheese or not, but be sure to whisk up the awesome curry vinaigrette.

Wishing you a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious!

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PS If you make this curry vinaigrette and love it, please consider leaving a blog post comment. Your comments help fellow readers learn more about the recipe.

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Green Salad with Beluga Black Lentils, Fresh Mozzarella, and Curry Vinaigrette
Take the bowl of this delicious beautiful salad directy to the table so everyone can feast their eyes before everything gets tossed together. We found chives in our CSA box this week; so I added them to the dressing. Basil or tarragon leaves flavorful options too.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup black beluga lentils
  • 2 tablespoons plus 3 tablespoons fruity extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon plus ¼ teaspoon Real Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • ¼ cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 2 heaping teaspoons curry powder
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 4 or 5 handfuls mixed baby salad greens
  • Sliced celery , carrots, jicama, avocado and tomatoes, as desired
  • 4 to 5 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese , cut into ½-inch cubes
Instructions
  1. Cook the lentils:
  2. Look over the lentils, sorting out any that don’t look right—rogue pieces of rock and such. Rinse, put in a saucepan, adding water to at least 2 inches above the lentils. Bring to a boil. Simmer until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. (They take longer at 7000 feet above sea level.) Drain them and toss with the first 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the first ¼ teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Set aside.
  3. Make the curry vinaigrette:
  4. Place the mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt and curry powder in a bowl. Anchor the bowl in a circle made from a damp towel. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the avocado oil. Stir in the chives and freshly ground black pepper. Mix a few tablespoons of this dressing into the reserved lentils.
  5. Finish the salad:
  6. Choose a pretty salad bowl. Mound the mixed greens in the bowl, tearing them into fork-size pieces if they are large leaves. Arrange the vegetables in concentric rings over the lettuce. In the center, pile the seasoned lentils.
  7. Toss the mozzarella cubes in the vinaigrette. Using a slotted spoon so you don’t overdress the salad, remove the cheese from the vinaigrette, and spoon the cubes on top of the lentils.
  8. Serve extra vinaigrette on the side for those who prefer a well-drenched salad.
Recipe Notes
  • For vegans: Substitute cubes of fresh extra firm tofu for the mozzarella.
  • Use any assortment of vegetables—including as snow peas, cherry tomatoes, blanched haricots verts. It's the cook’s choice according to what’s in the fridge.
  • Substitute more olive oil or walnut oil for the avocado oil.

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