Lemony lentil and vegetable salad

    50 min

    This is a deliciously healthy and filling Middle Eastern salad. The lentils are cooked with lemon and spices, then dressed while warm. Vegetables add colour, and dried apricots, goat's cheese and sunflower seeds complete the feast.

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    Serves: 4 

    • 250g (9oz) green lentils, rinsed
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled
    • good pinch of ground cumin
    • 1 slice of lemon
    • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
    • 85g (3oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots, roughly chopped
    • 3 small peppers (1 red, 1 green and 1 yellow), deseeded and cut into 2cm (¾in) squares
    • 115g (4oz) broccoli, broken into small florets
    • 25g (1oz) goat's cheese
    • 2 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds
    • For the dressing
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
    • pepper to taste

    Prep:15min  ›  Cook:35min  ›  Ready in:50min 

    1. Put the lentils in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum. Add the garlic, cumin and lemon slice, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
    2. Meanwhile, to make the dressing, put the lemon juice, oil, coriander and pepper to taste into a large salad bowl, and whisk together.
    3. Drain the lentils, discarding the lemon and garlic, and add them to the salad bowl. Toss gently to mix with the dressing.
    4. Add the onion, apricots, peppers and broccoli florets, and mix gently. Crumble the cheese over the top, scatter over the sunflower seeds and serve immediately.

    Some more ideas

    Instead of goat's cheese, top the salad with slices of hard-boiled eggs.

    Health points

    *Lentils are a good source of soluble fibre, which can help to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Lentils also offer protein and B vitamins.
    *The sunflower was first brought to Europe around 1510 as a decorative plant, but it wasn't until the 18th century that sunflowers began to be grown as a crop for the production of sunflower oil. Sunflower seeds are rich in healthy polyunsaturated fats and they are a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, which helps to protect cell membranes from damage by free radicals and vitamin B1. They also provide useful amounts of the minerals zinc, iron, copper, phosphorus, selenium and magnesium.

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