Friday, May 18, 2012

Thai-Inspired Lentil Salad

There is an awesome Thai restaurant in Edmonton call Numchok Wilai and they have a mango salad there that is to die for. I am not sure if it is vegan or not... It may have fish sauce in the dressing... but until I know for sure, I get this salad when the craving hits. I know there are plenty of vegans out there that probably don't like my approach here. I do my best. I made a commitment to eat vegan and sometimes moments like these come up and I make a judgement call. A couple days ago, I made plans to go for some Thai food next week and ever since, I have been craving this salad in a bad way.

So with a little guilt over the whole is it vegan issue on my favourite dish combined with an overwhelming craving to have this salad now, I decided to look in my own kitchen to see if I had ingredients to make my own version.

Something about Thai food that I really love. They have a way in many of their recipes to hit the perfect combination of sweet, spicy, sour and salty. What more could you want? It hits all cravings in one knock-out punch.

What I ended up making was an extremely loose play on what they actually serve in the restaurant... actually I don't think there are any ingredients that are the same.. but the flavour profile is similar enough that my craving went away. Plus I think my version has the benefit of being a little more filling as it is made with lentils as the base instead of shredded mango.

Not Thai Mango Salad
*Serves 3-4 takes 1 hour 

  • 1 cup of green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups of veggie broth or water
  • 1 can of pineapple (I used cubed, crushed would be good, maybe better)
  • 1 red hot chili
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint (have an extra Tbsp for garnish)
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro
  • 1 lime, zest and juiced

First thing you want to do is cook your lentils. This can be done in advance and if so, this salad takes just a few minutes to prepare. Add the lentils and the stock to a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 - 45 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Lentils seem to vary quite a bit. I heard that the older the lentils are, the longer they can take to cook. Start at 30 minutes and then tests. If they taste cooked and there is water in the pot, just drain it... No biggie.

While the lentils are cooking, seed and mince the red chili, mint and cilantro. Add the Chili, walnuts and one tablespoon of the fresh mint to a mortar and pestle and grind it up into a paste. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you could do this in a food processor, but it is such a small amount I don't know how well it would work. If you have neither, just chop it all very fine. Zest your lime and add it to the mixture.

After... can't believe I only purchased this a few weeks ago...
awesome way to bring out flavour

Once the lentils are cooked, let them cool.. preferably to room temperature if you can. If not, It should effect the flavour to serve hot, but it is really best cold or at room temperature. Combine the can of pineapples (with the juice), the walnut chili paste, cilantro and lime juice and stir well. Top with the extra mint.

Nothing really Thai about this, but still... yummy.

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