Good Fortune & Good Health in 2012!
The truism to be mindful of what we eat is especially important on and around New Year’s Day, as it may affect our fortunes throughout the year. So goes the thought and traditions of many cultures around the world regarding which foods to eat and which to avoid. Certain foods, such as legumes and leafy greens, are often considered heralds of prosperity and good fortune when consumed at the beginning of the New Year. Just the opposite though for eating fowl, as doing so could cause good luck to just get up and fly away. (Perhaps another reason to eat a vegetarian diet.)
Swelling Legumes Equal a Swelling Fortune
My inspiration for making Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Salad for New Years came when a friend told me about her and other Italian families New Year’s Eve ritual of eating lentils for greater financial success. As lentils resemble coins and swell to at least double their size when cooked, they may bring a similar increase in the fortunes of those who consume them. And it is not just lentils. All legumes have these properties and so are eaten on, before or just after New Year’s Day.
The More Greens We Eat, the Greater Our Fortune in the Year to Come
As some cultures sense a resemblance between greens and folded paper money, dark leafy greens have become essential to many New Year’s meals.
Numerous dishes can become harbingers of prosperity just by adding some greens to them, such as placing a bed of sautéed spinach under the lentil salad in today’s recipe.
Additional ways to incorporate more greens into New Year’s meals is as simple as adding greens (and their chopped stems) to a pot of soup, blending a few leaves of kale, collards or chard with a morning smoothie, or preparing a batch of Crispy Kale Chips as an hors d’oeuvres or snack.
We Enhance Our Physical Health While We Advance Our Financial Health
All dark leafy green veggies and legumes are nutrient-rich superfoods and protectors of good health. Eating more healthily in 2012 just may be our easiest New Year’s resolution to keep, as the same foods that enhance our physical health may also advance our financial health. We can do this!
This recipe for Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Salad is just the dish for a New Year’s celebration. It’s nutrient rich, beautiful, delicious and, if you can believe the press, includes the necessary “lucky” foods for a prosperous New Year. Be sure to slip in that bed of sautéed spinach under the lentils for added wind in your financial sails.
This recipe easily adjusts to include seasonal vegetables, such as asparagus in the spring and zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant in the summer.
¾ cup dried French green lentils, rinsed
1 large clove garlic, peeled and halved
1½ cups water
½ teaspoon salt
1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
¾ cup celery, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves
1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch lengthwise strips
½ pound carrots, halved lengthwise if thick, otherwise left whole
1 red onion, peeled, halved and cut into 1-inch wedges
1 medium delicata squash cut into ¼-inch rounds, and seeded
OR a small buttercup squash, halved, seeded and cut into ½-inch wedges
1 sweet potato or yam, quartered and cut into ½-inch wedges
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons seasoned “lite” rice vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place the lentils and garlic into a medium saucepan with the water and salt. Bring the water to a boil. Cover the pan and lower the heat so the water simmers. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the sliced celery and shallot and let the lentils sit in the covered pan for 5 minutes.
While the lentils are cooking, prepare the veggies and toss them in the olive oil. Divide them among two rimmed baking sheets and lightly season them with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast the veggies, turning once after 20 minutes. Continue roasting another 20 minutes until they are tender and blackened.
Prepare the dressing by combining the mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking continuously.
Discard the garlic from the lentils. Pour the lentils into a strainer to remove any extra cooking liquid. (Note: this liquid is delicious. Drink it as is or add it to a pot of soup.) Toss the lentils with 2/3 of the dressing, adjusting the salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chopped celery leaves.
Divide the lentils among 4 plates and top them with an assortment of the roasted vegetables. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salads and sprinkle with the chopped parsley and thinly sliced green onion.