One of my favorite throw-together lunches is a rice salad. The method is quite simple: take cooked (cooled or refrigerated/leftover) rice, add a little or a lot of chopped veggies from your crisper drawer (or straight from the pile of garden bounty that somehow continues to grow on your kitchen counter, no matter what you consume), stir in a protein-of-choice (usually meatless, like nuts or cheese), toss it all with a dressing (oil, vinegar, maybe a little mayo?), and season well. I like to make a very large bowl, so there is plenty leftover for the next day (I also like making it during the week rather than weekends, insuring that there are no mouths but my own to eat it).
Rice salads never get old, because they are never exactly duplicated. No measuring, no recipe (though I attempt to give loose proportions below) — just abandoning your inhibitions, having your way with a chef’s knife, adding mayo if you’re feeling creamy, and calling it lunch. This week’s version of it — of course — utilizes more of all these tomatoes, so basil, fresh mozzarella, and quantities of olive oil also made the cut.
The sprouted lentils have been a little protein fetish of mine this summer — sprouting the pulses unlocks more nutrients and makes them easier to digest (i.e., no Beano required). The raw lentils are mildly crunchy and taste very “sprouty,” — which is sometimes desirable; but if not you could lightly steam them, or sautée briefly in garlic and olive oil to take the edge off the green flavor (this, unfortunately, also kills some nutrients — but I still eat them both ways). The fact that they are an incredibly cheap and nutritive protein gives them staying power in my kitchen. You can read how to sprout the lentils below.*
So make a late-morning date with your cutting board, and start cleaning off those counters — there is a limit to how many cucumbers an average kitchen countertop will hold. Do yourself a favor, and make an even bigger quantity than what’s listed below — it’ll keep for several days in the frig — getting you through the rest of the week with an instant lunch at the ready. Which is really nice on those days when lunch could otherwise end up being the crust off two kids’ pb&j sandwiches (other people do that, right?…).
Rice Salad with Sprouted Lentils, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella
- about 3 cups cooked (cool, or room-temp) rice (or other grain of choice)
- 1/2 small red onion, or a couple shallots, or a few scallions, finely chopped
- about 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (seeded if using large slicers)
- about 1 cup (or more) cubed fresh mozzarella
- about 1 cup sprouted lentils (raw or cooked)*
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- simple vinaigrette, for dressing
- olive oil, for drizzling
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, toss together the rice, vegetables, cheese, lentils, and herbs. Dress to taste with a simple vinaigrette (alternatively, dress with oil and vinegar or lemon juice). Season to taste with salt and pepper, and drizzle with more olive oil. Add more of this or that until the flavor suits your wants. Will keep in frig for several days.
* How to sprout lentils:
Place 1/2 cup dry lentils in a large canning jar (half-gallon is preferable — if you only have a quart-size, sprout only 1/4 cup lentils). Fill jar with water at least half-full, and let sit overnight.
The next morning, drain and rinse the lentils. Place the well-drained lentils back in the jar, and let the jar rest on its side in a cool place (if you don’t have a mesh screen lid, then place a paper towel over the opening and secure with a rubber band — the sprouting lentils need air). Rinse again that night.
Repeat the rinsing 2x a day (morning and night) until little sprouts appear — I usually let my sprout “tails” grow to about 1/4 – 1/2″ long — this only takes a couple days in the summer. Once ready, you can keep them in a sealed container in your refrigerator.
More useful and detailed instructions about sprouting beans can be found here.