{Refreshing and Light} Lentil Salad

Has anyone else noticed how hot it is outside? To be honest, I really don't mind it. Being an Arizona girl for most of my life, I can take the heat! Personally, I would rather be hot than cold. A little sunshine is good for us. That's what swimming pools and tank tops are for. I wish I could tell you that we have been swimming a lot this summer and doing "summer stuff" like going on family vacations and grilling burgers every weekend. Honestly, I have not been in summer vacation mode in the slightest! Being in summer school has sort of ruined that for me. Thank goodness I only have 3 more days and then I will have a 4 week break until the Fall semester. I am hoping that a summer getaway is in my future....

The biggest disappointment during the summer is not being able to use the oven for cooking. I swear, if we use our oven in the summer, it heats the house 15 degrees higher for the rest of the day. Not worth it! This is why we all resort to breaking out the grill during these hot summer months. Although I am a huge fan of grilling, I have been craving something light and satisfying. Sometimes when it is so hot outside, eating a heavy meal doesn't appeal to me in the slightest.

I have created this lentil salad as a fairly EASY and very INEXPENSIVE dinner option when you want something on the lighter side. Lentils get a bad rap as being boring, tasteless, "health food". Yes it's true, they are incredibly healthy, packing in more than half of your daily needs for folic acid as well as {keep you full} fiber. Despite lentils being touted as a health food, they soak up flavor like a sponge and are actually quite tasty! You {and your picky husband} might be surprised when you realize how yummy this salad is. 

This salad is a great introduction to lentils. The heat from the rice and lentils causes the spinach to wilt just a little bit, which I love! Although this is a hot salad, it doesn't require heating up your oven, making it a great salad for the warmest months of the year.  If you want to make this meal super budget friendly, I suggest buying your lentils and rice in the bulk bins of your local health food store. I spent a whopping $4 on the rice and lentils for this recipe, and we had a lot leftover.

Lentil Salad
Serves 5-6

3 cups cooked brown rice
3 cups green lentils
3 cups romaine (organic)
5 cups fresh spinach (organic)
1 cucumber Peeled and diced
1 large tomato diced (organic)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 lemon
1 large red onion
pita chips for garnish (optional)

juice of 2 lemons
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1tsp chopped garlic

I highly suggest soaking your lentils ahead of time to cut the cooking time in half. Place lentils in a large bowl, cover with water. Refrigerate for 4-8 hours. Prior to cooking, rinse lentils to remove any debris and place them in a large pot submerged in fresh water. Add garlic, salt, pepper. Cook on low/medium for 30-45 minutes. They should be soft but not mushy. After cooking, drain any excess water and squeeze lemon over the lentils. Mix the cooked rice and lentils into one pot and keep warm.

Julienne onion and saute in olive oil until edges are crisp. Chop lettuce and spinach very finely and set aside. Mix all ingredients for the dressing and place in refrigerator for a few minutes. Distribute lettuce and spinach among plates and top with the lentils and rice. Add cucumber, tomato, onion, and pita chips. Drizzle with dressing and enjoy.

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