For the past few months, I have increasingly been replacing meat protein with vegetarian protein in my meals. I am not on the verge of becoming a vegetarian, but my preference is for organic or free-range meat and that gets expensive to eat every day. In addition, studies show that most people eat too much meat and would benefit from including other forms of protein in their diet.
Beans are inexpensive and are the obvious choice when it comes to veggie protein. However, they take a bit of planning if you are making them from scratch because you need to soak them for 8-24 hours before boiling them. This doesn’t always work for me because I often only decide in the afternoon what we will be having for dinner that evening. On those days, my go-to vegetarian protein is Puy lentils.
Puy lentils don’t require pre-soaking, they only take 15-20 minutes to cook, and they have a delicious bite to them. For a step-by-step guide, see my post ‘How To Cook Puy Lentils’.
Here’s a recipe I made recently for ‘Puy Lentil, Green Pea and Mint Salad’. I love mint and peas together, and adding Puy lentils bulks the dish up to make an interesting side dish or a simple filling meal.
PUY LENTIL, GREEN PEA AND MINT SALAD
(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)
400g / 14 oz frozen green peas
150g / 5 oz dried puy lentils
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt + 1 tsp salt
8 radishes, trimmed and sliced
3 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
200g / 7 oz feta cheese, diced or crumbled
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Rinse 150g of dried Puy lentils to remove any debris. Put the lentils into a small pot of cold water so that they are covered by about 3 inches of water. Bring the water up to the boil. As soon as it starts boiling, reduce the heat to a good simmer. Add 1tsp of salt and a bay leaf into the water if you want a hint of added flavor (optional). Simmer for 15-20 minutes. The Puy lentils should still have some bite to them. Drain and spread on a platter to cool.
- In another pot, bring some water to the boil and add 400g frozen green peas plus 1tsp salt . Simmer for 4 minutes until cooked through. Drain and spread on a platter to cool.
- Wash and trim 8 radishes. Slice them thinly.
- Wash and dry some mint leaves. Chop them very finely. You should have about 3 Tbsp worth of chopped mint leaves.
- Take 200g of feta cheese and dice or crumble it.
- As soon as the Puy lentils and green peas are room temperature, get a salad bowl and toss all the ingredients together: Puy lentils, green peas, radishes, mint leaves, feta and 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 48 hours. If refrigerating, allow the salad to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving.