Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Eat Well, Spend Less: Grow a Salad (But Not with Green Things!)

June 19th, 2012 · 39 Comments · Frugality, Recipes

Sprouted Lentil Salad  :: via Kitchen Stewardship

I’m happiest at the bottom of a salad bowl.

You know how when you get to the end, you’ve run out of lettuce, but there’s a bunch of little things that fell through sitting on the bottom of the bowl? The red onion, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, and lately, sprouted lentils. Mixed up with the leftover dressing that seeps down there…I’m in Heaven.

Who needs lettuce? I often think. This is the stuff that makes a good salad!

Why not create a salad out of salad toppings?

This sprouted lentil salad is a bit like a pasta salad in the way it comes together, but it may not win any awards for “food you can take to parties with normal people,” unfortunately.

Katie Makes Weird Food

Sprouted Lentil Salad  :: via Kitchen Stewardship

When my dearest friend in the world visited recently, her roommate told her to text anytime I made her eat something weird.

I actually got nervous thinking that we’d get through the entire 4-day visit and she wouldn’t encounter anything out of the ordinary! The pressure was intense. My friend and roommate eat very much a whole foods diet, basically no sugar or grain, plenty of Farmer’s Market goodies…I couldn’t imagine that I would be serving anything she didn’t already see at home.

I told my husband, “Honey, tell me if you see her texting at the table; then we’ll know I’ve served something weird.”

We got pretty far into day one without incident, and then I passed the sprouted lentils to top her salad at dinner.

Out came the phone.

Sprouted Lentils: The Ultimate in Nourishing Frugality

Sprouted Lentil Salad  :: via Kitchen Stewardship

I told her about the beautiful salad I’d served at my son’s birthday party the week before and lamented that not many people seemed to have had the guts to try it.

“Well, no wonder!” she quipped. “It looks like it’s got little worms coming out of it, like it’s alive!”

A sprouted lentil salad may not be alive and wiggling like my friend was insinuating, but one of its claims to fame is that it is living food, filled with beneficial enzymes and vitamins.

Sprouted lentils are not only great health food, but perhaps the ultimate way to Eat Well and Spend Less:

  • Lentils are extremely inexpensive to begin with.
  • Sprouting them is so simple, and it doubles the quantity of your food and increases the nourishment without costing you a dime.
  • Compared to lettuce at about $1.29-over $3 per pound, depending on where and when I’m shopping, lentils for less than $1/pound are a great deal – plus once they’re soaked, cooked, and sprouted, a pound of lentils becomes a much larger salad than a pound of greens.
  • Lentils have protein, fiber, iron, and vitamins that you won’t find in greens.
  • Sprouted lentils are living food, with enzymes, Vitamin C, and even chlorophyll – all things you’d have to grow in a garden or buy fresh at the store to obtain. Did you know sailors crossing the oceans centuries ago would sprout lentils or seeds to get Vitamin C and prevent scurvy?
  • Dry legumes are easy to store, so you can buy in bulk and never have to run to the store for fresh greens. This would enable you to shop every other week and still have fresh salads, if that system would save your budget.

How to Sprout Lentils

Sprouting is super easy. You can see full directions HERE, but basically:

  1. Rinse and soak lentils in water overnight.
  2. Drain and leave lentils in the colander.
  3. Rinse with cold water twice a day and toss around to let all the lentils get air.
  4. After about 3-5 days,  you’ll have sprouts measuring about 1-2 cm. The lentils are soft and edible, even cold.
  5. Sprout until you see green if your colander is in the sunlight – this adds chlorophyll to your diet, without having to buy fresh greens.
  6. Store in the refrigerator for 1-3 weeks in an airtight container.

Sprouted lentils can be cooked up just like regular lentils for any recipe (like this one) or to supplement meat in tacos or sloppy joes (more info in The Everything Beans Book), they make fun, crunchy toppings for salads, and they really are great dinner conversation starters with guests. You can also use them as the base for a salad instead of greens or pasta.

Recipe: Sprouted Lentil Salad

Sprouted Lentil Salad  :: via Kitchen Stewardship

Ingredients:

3 carrots, sliced
one medium red onion, diced
1 colored pepper or mixed colors to equal one whole pepper, diced
3-4 c. sprouted lentils, measured after sprouting*
2-3 oz. feta cheese
cubed cheese, optional
handful of pea pods, but in half OR 1/2 c. frozen peas
1/4 c. crispy sunflower seeds (how to make crispy nuts)
1/4 c. crispy walnuts, crushed with fingers
dressing of your choice (see below for an oil-based and a creamy option)

Additional ideas: halved cherry tomatoes, sliced or diced avocado, green or black olives, sliced fresh mushrooms…the world is yours on this one!

*This amount of sprouted lentils is probably only about 1 cup dry lentils – I always sprout a lot and cook and freeze the extras, saving a pint jar in the fridge for a few weeks to top salads. Note of clarification: the lentils in the salad are RAW, not cooked. They’re just a little crunchy and quite yummy when sprouted and not cooked. Cooked sprouted lentils taste pretty much like cooked regular lentils, maybe a bit sweeter because your sprouts have eaten some of the starch.

Method:

Toss together and serve. Add additional dressing if necessary after the salad spends time in the refrigerator. Store in the fridge; the salad is better after 6-12 hours, but then the quality worsens each day, so it’s definitely best served fresh. Don’t try to keep longer than 2-3 days once the dressing has been added.

Favorite Salad Dressings

I always make my own salad dressings so I don’t have to deal with the yucky soybean oil so prevalent in commercial options. I use extra virgin olive oil most of the time, and they’re delicious. You can check out some of our family’s favorite homemade dressings, and here are two new ones I’ve discovered recently; these two below are pictured with the lentil salad on this page.

Sprouted Lentil Salad  :: via Kitchen Stewardship

Imitation Olive Garden Dressing

Ingredients:

one chunk asiago or Parmesan cheese, about ¼ c.
1 clove of garlic
1/2 c. homemade mayo
1/3 c. white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. honey
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1 Tbs. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
EVOO to thin if necessary; my mayo is very thick, so I use less than 1/2 c. mayo and add oil to complete the half cup

Method:

Whiz chunk of cheese and garlic in mini food processor or blender. Add all the other ingredients and blend to combine. Without machines, just press the garlic, grate the cheese, and stir everything together. Best to allow an hour for the flavors to blend before serving. Bonus: if you make lacto-fermented mayo, this is already a probiotic condiment.

Thanks to Cheeky Bums blog for the original recipe, which I adapted.

Sprouted Lentil Salad  :: via Kitchen Stewardship

Greek House Dressing (Italian?)

I have a homemade Greek dressing on my site already, which is wonderful. About this one, my husband said, “This is the best Italian you’ve ever made!”

“It’s not Italian; it’s Greek,” I told him.

Blank look.

“Still way better than your old Italian. Keep this one.”

And really, he’s right. There’s nothing in the recipe that makes it “Greek,” so let’s call it Italian and just enjoy it.

Ingredients:

3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
½ cup red wine vinegar (can use white for part or all)
2 tsp. garlic powder (or 3-6 cloves fresh garlic, crushed)
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 tsp. (a hearty squirt) Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Method:

Mix and enjoy! Stores at room temperature well for at least a month. The vinegar preserves even fresh garlic, but don’t leave EVOO in a clear container in direct sunlight or in any clear container on the counter more than a few weeks.

Here is the original recipe before I got my claws into it…

Would you take this baby to a potluck? To travel in eco-friendly style, Mighty Nest has some bamboo travel utensils and stainless steel plates so you don’t have to pack plastic or worry about breaking your real dishes. Serve the salad in this huge bamboo salad bowl, and maybe people won’t notice the little worm-like thingys because they’ll think your bowl is so cute. Winking smile

Other Cold Salad Ideas

Tomato and Feta Salad

If you don’t want wormy looking things at your summertime gathering, here are some other ideas for cold salads to pass:

  • Pasta salad for a crowd
  • Homemade potato salad (add yogurt to make it probiotic!)
  • Cold grain salad (still very “real foodie” but less scary looking than sprouted lentils)
  • Reader ideas HERE
  • Kimi of The Nourishing Gourmet, who is herself a frugalista extraordinaire, has a beautiful eBook called Fresh: Nourishing Salads for all Seasons. Her beautiful Tomato and Feta Lentil salad is pictured above.
  • Kate of Modern Alternative Mama just published a new summer foods eBook this week, called Simply Summer. Here’s what I want to try from it:
    • Grilled Parmesan Potatoes
    • Salmon with Dill
    • Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette (I could make it with my macadamia nut oil from Mountain Rose Herbs!)
    • Lemon Sherbet – not simple, but I’m so excited there are directions for without an ice cream maker!
    • Click HERE to check it out.

What’s your favorite frugal, summer salad?

Do check out the other Eat Well, Spend Less ladies for summertime eating inspiration!

———————————————

I’d love to see more of you!  Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: Mighty Nest is a June sponsor receiving their complementary mention in a post. I am an affiliate for Kimi and Kate, so I earn commission if you purchase their ebooks starting here. See my full disclosure statement here.

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39 Comments so far ↓

  • Melissa from the Blue House

    OH MAN! This looks so good, you’ve convinced me to try sprouting again. The last two times I tried it I just got moldy beans. :P

  • marcella

    Yum! When my son was little we used to buy a sprouted lentil salad at the farmers market – we do live in CA so I guess sprouts are a bit more common here :-) I may have to try and recreate that salad again. Thanks for the sprout inspiration.

  • Jamie

    This salad looks great and so do the dressings. I was just thinking last night that I needed to find something new and exciting for salads. The only dressing I’ve made for my salads is a sesame oil with lemon juice and a pinch of salt. It’s a good one, but I need some variety. I’ve never sprouted lentils before, I’ll be trying it out today. Thank you!

  • Ashley

    Hi Katie…looks like the link to Carrie at Denver Bargains is for last month’s Eat Well, Spend Less. Thought I’d let you know : )

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Ashely,
    Thanks! I copied the list from last month’s post, forgetting I had used some direct links instead of homepage links. Whoops! Thanks for alerting me. :) Katie

  • Shirley @ gfe

    This post made me laugh, Katie! Yes, the bottom of the salad bowl is often the best and now I am wondering what folks would text about my food. ;-) Thanks for all the great recipes!

    Shirley

  • Katie G.

    I actually just recently started having lettuce in my salads, the salad used to be carrot, celery, cucumber, onion, jicima, radish, etc. No greens, but very delicious. I’m definitely gonna try sprouting the lentils, the frugality of it has won me over!

    I agree with Marcella, I live in southern California, and all my friends at least know about sprouts, if not eat them regularly. And speaking of weird food, I just had roasted beets in yogurt.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Katie,
    Roasted beets in yogurt – that actually sounds marvelous, and since I’m the only Kimball who will eat beets, I’m totally all over that when the CSA delivers them by the bagful!! :) Katie

    Katie G. Reply:

    The beets are great. They turn the yogurt bright pink! Maybe that would win your little girl over? I’ve been experimenting with savory yogurt dishes. The other one I have is yogurt with avocado and salt. That’s all and it tastes amazing :) and this is coming from someone who needed PLENTY of honey on her yogurt previously.

    By the way, thank you for the wonderful blog you run! I’ve made many changes for the better because of you, including making yogurt.

  • Emily

    Sprouted lentils also taste way better than cooked.

  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    Thanks for sharing my book!

    I might have to try this. I’ve been sprouting other beans and rice lately to include in various dishes. My husband doesn’t like lentils so I haven’t tried them. When I went on a picnic with my friend a couple weeks ago (who follows WAP), she had a salad based on sprouted lentils. They are everywhere! So maybe I need to try…. :)

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kate – put ‘em in tacos – you can’t taste them under all the spice1 ;) Katie

  • Tiffany @ DontWastetheCrumbs.com

    My favorite summer salad so far is Greek Couscous. I have the recipe on my site, but it’s couscous with sundried tomatoes, olives, feta and sweet peppers. YUM!

  • Katie

    I must say, I tried lentil burgers the other day and we loved them. My husband, the super taster, loved them most and my kids ate them too! Yum.

  • Good Food Good Friends

    You are so right! The best part of the salad is the goodies. Thanks for giving me permission to for go the greens!

  • Pam@behealthybehappywellness

    Love this! Lettuce doesn’t agree with me, so most of my salads are spinach or kale. I love to sprout, so I’ll be giving this a try very soon!

  • Austin

    Wow, I’ve never heard of this before. It looks so good! I want to try this. Also, your photography is very nice.

  • Eat Well and Spend Less in the Summertime — Life As Mom

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  • Linda B

    I need help! I bought red lentils thinking they were the same as the green ones. They aren’t. Do you have any receipes for red lentils?

    Katie G. Reply:

    In my experience I have been able to sprout red lentils, too, and they tasted fine. I’ve never sprouted green lentils. Green lentils hold their shape better when cooking, and since I had both green and red I decided I would cook the green and sprout the red.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Linda,
    Ack! I’ve never used red lentils, but I know they turn to mush when cooked. The Internet is vast and wide; someone has some wonderful recipes for you, I’m sure. ;) Katie

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  • Jill

    I just want to clarify/double-check, for this salad, do you cook the lentils after sprouting? or eat them raw in the salad?

    I’m trying this salad. I’ve never sprouted anything before. And my lentils have teeny tiny sprouts already! I’m excited!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jill,
    Just eat them raw – I know, it IS exciting to see the sprouts growing, isn’t it? ;) Katie

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  • Cheryl

    Katie, I read the update to the 2010 Monday Mission on sprouting where you quoted a website stating that sprouted lentils retain phytates and cause digestive issues. Have you had a problem with sprouted lentils since then? Or have you found some updated research?

    I can’t wait to try this! I’ve actually avoided making salads at home because I get sick of lettuce so quickly and it just rots in my fridge. Not a good use of resources!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Cheryl,
    Hmmm, forgot all about that update. I have no updated research…they kind of give me gas, I think, but so does general living, breathing and eating, so I dunno! I’m finding myself worrying less about phytates, just because I don’t have the energy to worry about every little thing so much! Hope you enjoy the salad – :) Katie

    Cheryl Reply:

    And it’s at this point that I start thinking, “If Katie doesn’t worry about it, then I shouldn’t either.”

    Setting up the lentils to sprout right now! I’ve been thinking about this salad for days…

  • Barbara

    Excellent! So easy and so tasty. I never in a million years would have thought to sprout lentils. Thank you so much.

  • Kristel from Healthy Frugalista

    Your salad sounds delicious Katie. I would have eaten it if I was at your son’s party :)

    I love and eat sprouts too, but everyone should be aware of the potential risk associated with raw sprouts, especially if they are pregnant, have young children, elderly or are immune compromised. If you’re interested in information about this I included it in a recent post Tip to Cut Meat Costs

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kristel,
    Hmmm, interesting – I don’t know if I’d be willing to go through all that trouble, but maybe I could do the hydrogen peroxide thing. Thanks for sharing! :) Katie

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  • Jen

    Does anyone know if its safe for my 10month old baby to eat sprouted lentils? I’m searching high and low on the Internet and every raw foodie I know to find out?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jen,
    Cooked, I would say “go for it.” Raw…I’m not sure about safety, but I don’t think a 10mo would be ready for either the texture (teeth?) or the digestion of raw sprouted legumes. Nothing official, just the opinion of a mom of 3! :) Katie

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  • Michelle

    LOL! I found this page looking for non-sandwich ideas to send my hubby for lunch.
    “Food you can take to parties with normal people” made me crack up! We invited friends from church over and they said “yeah, but I heard you guys eat some weird stuff”.
    I eat meat…and have some stuff fermenting in my kitchen too.
    I would like to try this, we like lentils and it looks interesting. I bet Red lentils would be tasty.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    For sure, Michelle, red would be too mushy. I hope your church friends enjoyed the weird food! ;) Katie

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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