Cooling Salad for Sweltering Summer Days…and Nights

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Most of the country is sweltering under a prolonged heatwave, and people are looking for ways to keep cool.  You leave an air-conditioned house for an air-conditioned car to take you to an air-conditioned office, supermarket or shopping mall. You consume cold drinks, search out ice cream, and avoid heavy food.

Yes, you do need to eat, even in a heatwave, but you are probably not craving anything hot or fried.

Consider this cooling salad chock-full of good-for-you-veggies, filling beans, and refreshing herbs. The recipe calls for lentils, but if you prefer another bean such as chickpea go ahead and swap it out. The flavor is in the dressing, which is a real yin-yang treat with garlic, lime juice, a sweetener (either agave nectar or honey), and mustard. Mint is the main herb here, but if you have a bumper crop of basil or cilantro include it in the mix. There is lots of “green” in this salad – celery, cucumber, jalapeño, peppers – so you may be tempted to add a contrasting color. Feel free to use diced cherry tomatoes or red bell peppers if you want something other than green. For more crunch, add crushed peanuts to the finished product.

Molly Watson from Edible Communities suggests making the dressing first to have it out of the way as it is the more involved step, then you can cut and prep the veggies.

INGREDIENTS

For the dressing

  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or mild honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard/ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

For the salad

  • 2 small heads fennel
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 jalapeño (optional)
  • 8 springs mint
  • 1/2 cup toasted pepitas
  • 1 cup sprouted lentils and/or other legumes
  • 1 cup kale sprouts or other micro greens

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Peel and mince the garlic and add it to a large salad bowl along with the olive oil, lime juice, agave, mustard, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust. You want a very bright, vibrant dressing, so go ahead and add more lime juice and/or salt and/or pepper to make it really “pop” on your tongue.
  2. Trim and dice the fennel in pretty small dice. Think about having all of the salad components more or less the same size, and pepitas are the size they are, so a dice about as wide as a pumpkin seed (or a bit bigger) is ideal. Add the fennel to the dressing.
  3. Peel, de-seed, and dice the cucumber. Add to the bowl.
  4. Trim and dice the celery and add to the bowl.
  5. Trim and dice the green pepper, add it to the bowl.
  6. Trim, de-seed, and dice the jalapeño, if using, and, you guessed it, add it to the bowl.
  7. Toss everything with the dressing. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if you want.
  8. Remove the mint leaves from their springs and stack them on a clean cutting surface. Roll them into a little bundle and cut into thin ribbons. Scatter the mint, pepitas, sprouted lentils or whatever legume you are using, and sprouts on the salad.
  9. Serve the salad and enjoy!

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