Meatless Mondays: Sprouted Lentils and Beans With Baby Greens
Why meatless on Mondays? Not only is eating less animal protein a healthy diet choice, but curbing your meat consumption can have a significant environmental impact too. In 2006 the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that animal agriculture accounted for a full 19 percent of greenhouse gases—more than the transportation sector. Best of all, with recipes like these, going meatless can be a delicious weekly habit.
This weekend I hosted the first of a series of workshops designed to teach people how to get the week off to a great start. A small group of hungry eaters gathered at my cooking school, located on a working farm in Stockton, N.J., for a quick yoga class in the fields and a hands-on vegetarian lunch. I’m calling these workshops Detox Sundays, and this weekend’s class was all about clean, raw food.
I’m working with my sister, a nutritionist, on these lunches. She spent the better part of the lunch talking about ways to get a balanced, well-rounded diet within the confines of a raw meal. The biggest problem is protein. Cooked beans are out of the question, but legumes provide a large amount of nutrients in a vegetarian diet. Making a dried bean edible without cooking presents a bit of a puzzle. One of the easiest ways to unlock nutrition without cooking is to bring those dried legumes to life.
If you’ve ever bought sprouts at the store, you know how expensive they can be. But they are very easy to digest, and the nutrients—iron, zinc, and vitamin C—found in legumes are easier to absorb in sprouts. A single serving of sprouted lentils, for instance, has about seven grams of protein—a great way to complete a raw, vegetarian meal. They don’t have to cost a fortune if you make them yourself.
Sprouting lentils is one of the easiest things you can do in the kitchen. Soak them overnight at room temperature, and then cover with a damp towel for three to four days, turning them daily, until they sprout. When the sprouts are the size you want, either eat them or keep them covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Sprouted Lentils and Beans With Baby Greens and Sunflower Seeds
Serves 4 to 6
1/2 cup French green lentils
1/2 cup mung beans
1/2 cup whole black lentils
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 bunch fresh chives, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tarragon leaves
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups baby salad greens
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Cover the green lentils, mung beans, and black lentils with warm water and soak overnight. Drain and rinse the lentils and beans, then place in a large bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let stand at room temperature for 3 to 4 days, tossing and turning the sprouts every day and moistening the towel when necessary. Rinse the sprouts.
Whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, chives, tarragon, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss the sprouts with the dressing, then fold in the baby greens. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve the salad topped with the sunflower seeds.