Memories of Soap, Peas and Lentils

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Logically, I know there is no true relationship between peas and lentils, except they both grow in a pod. Even with this knowledge my memory takes the word lentils and evokes the thought of peas. Peas are not my friends. I actually dislike them, as even the sight of them takes me to a distinct memory of having my mouth washed out with liquid dish soap. So here is the story: I had spent the day with my Father rounding up cattle to move them to pasture land. Cattle are not that intelligent and tend to run out of the herd. My Father had little patience for such cows and would call them names. The names used were not perhaps as sweet as Betsy or Daisy, but I was so amazed to see that the more he shouted these names the more the cows listened to his directions. So that evening when my Mother said eat your peas, I used one of the names I had learned from my Dad as I thought for sure mom would listen and I wouldn’t have to eat the peas. It was a hard lesson to learn, as bad names do not work on humans, but liquid soap does – at least it did with me. So since then, peas have been my enemy.

Lentils are my friends. They are versatile and easy to cook with, and full of nutrients. Canada is a large producer of lentils, with Saskatchewan producing the largest supply. Farmers plant lentil crops to help replace nitrogen in the soil and are often referred to as a nitrogen-fixing crop.

Please give this lentil salad recipe a try. I promise there is not a drop of soap in the recipe!

Lentil Salad with Barbequed Asian Salmon

1½ cups green lentils

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic crushed

½ cup red onion finely chopped

¼ cup olive oil

3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

¼ cup lemon juice

1 -125g. package of Feta in oil with herbs and spices

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

4 medium Roma tomatoes diced

1 medium English cucumber diced

1 medium red pepper deeded and chopped finely

2 medium carrots peeled and grated

½ cup fresh mint chopped finely

2 -8 ounce salmon steaks

2 cloves garlic crushed

2 tbsp. fresh ginger peeled and grated

¼ cup honey

⅓ cup soya sauce

¼ cup olive oil

8 cups arugula greens

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¾ cup olive oil

Rinse the green lentils well in cold water, drain and add to a large saucepan. Cover with enough water to cover the lentils by 4 inches then add the bay leaf and sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat, add the salt and reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet; add the garlic and red onion and sauté until the onions are soft usually 5 minutes.

Drain the cooked lentils; remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs, place in a medium bowl then add the cooked onion mixture and toss. Add the Roma tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, carrots and the mint. In a separate bowl whisk the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and the feta cheese then add the olive oil and whisk again. Season with salt and pepper. Add the prepared vinaigrette and toss again to distribute the vinaigrette through out the lentil mixture and refrigerate until chilled.

Combine the garlic, ginger, honey, soya sauce and olive oil in a shallow glass bowl, whisk to incorporate and combine all ingredients. Place the salmon steaks in the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour turning the salmon steaks once. Discard the marinate then heat the barbeque to medium high and lightly oil the barbeque grates with vegetable oil. Place the marinated salmon steak on the prepared grates and cook 4 to 6 minutes per side or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Do not over cook or fish will be dry.

Place the arugula greens on a large platter, place the chilled lentil mixture on top of the greens then top with the salmon steaks.

If you want more dressing on your salad mix up the balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette to serve on the side.

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