In my humble opinion, it's the dressing that makes the salad. I know, I'm a dietitian so I'm supposed to say it's all about the veggies, but whatever. It's the truth. Now, we're not talking about bottled ranch or that syrupy-sweet raspberry vinaigrette. Besides tasting generally pretty horrid, they are packed with preservatives, hidden sugars (20 grams in my old favorite fat free honey mustard!!), and heavily refined fats.
Homemade dressing tastes so much better than what is the bottle - I don't think we've purchased premade dressing in years! It may sound complicated, but I promise, it takes just a few minutes to whip up.
The dressing in the recipe is my all-time favorite. It packs in flavor, so you can get away with a smaller amount, but it's so healthy, you won't feel too bad if your salad turns into a soup! I love it on heartier salads, but you can thin it with a little more water for a lighter dressing. It is also fantastic with crudites for a snack or drizzled on grilled tofu.
Tahini, a staple ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking, is sesame butter - like peanut butter but made with sesame seeds. One serving of tahini contains about the same amount of calcium as a cup of milk, so if you are trying to cut back on dairy, tahini is a fantastic addition. It is also high in phosphorus, vitamin E, and magnesium, and an amino acid called methionine, which supports liver health, something you might need after this weekends St. Pattys festivities.
Lentils are my favorite bean, not for health reasons but because they cook so stinkin' fast! They are rich in fiber, folate, and iron. Lentils are also high in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol.
I could kick myself because I never ate a radish until a couple years ago, and now it is one of my favorite vegetables! I love the peppery kick and beautiful color it adds to salads. Radish contains a compound called isothiocyanates, a powerful cancer fighter.
Lentil and Rice Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing
1/4 cup tahini 1/4 cup water Juice from 1/2 lemon 1 tbsp honey 1 clover garlic, minced 1/4 cup chopped parsley Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked lentils, cooled 1 cup cooked brown rice, cooled 4 diced radishes 1/2 cup diced red onion 2 stalks celery, diced 3 tbsp mint, chopped 4 ounces crumbled feta salad greens (I used microgreens from our CSA, but I bet arugula or crunchy romaine would work well too)
First, make the salad dressing. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss all of the salad ingredients together, except for the salad greens, in a large bowl. Divide the greens into four bowls. Top with the rice and lentil mixture. Drizzle (or completely saturate) with dressing and serve.