This week, we’re back with another jar salad, this time with a lentil and quinoa variation. I say this is a quinoa salad, but technically, nothing in this dish couldn’t be (re)heated…and I can vouch for the fact that it tastes just as good warm as it does cold. If you like to meal prep but don’t necessarily enjoy eating the exact same thing every day, you could mix it up by having a cold salad one day followed by a warm “bowl” meal the following day. The option to alternate is nice.
The inspiration for this salad came from a recipe for lentil tabbouleh from Jamie Oliver. It looked great, but the calorie count was a bit low for my lunch (I try to stick somewhere between 350-400 calories). So I bulked up the salad with quinoa, a bunch of vegetables I needed to use up (carrots, tomatoes, peppers) and some that I bought just for this dish (spinach, mushrooms). A bit of harissa adds heat and depth to the roasted veggies, while plenty of herbs (again, playing off the tabbouleh theme) in the dressing keep it all tasting light and fresh.
You can pack this salad up into jars for easy transportation, or whatever container you like. Stacked in the way recommended below, it should keep for at least 5 days.
The other great option you have with this salad is that it doesn’t have to be a salad at all. As mentioned above, it’s just as good eaten warm…and that means it can be frozen. If you don’t need all six servings at once, or you just want to make a few extras, pack them into quart-sized freezer bags (you can stack layers or mix it all together, doesn’t matter) and freeze flat. The night before you plan to eat a serving, leave it in the fridge overnight (if you think of it–not necessary, but it will make reheating go faster). Microwave for a few minutes, stirring every minute or so, and then serve.
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cups dry brown or puy lentils (puy will hold their shape better, but I used brown because that's what I had)
- 6 cups water
- 1-2 tsp kosher salt
- 1-2 sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme and/or oregano, optional
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, mint and/or oregano
- 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 bell peppers, any color you like, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 carrots, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into 1/2-inch half circles
- 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 tsp harissa paste, optional
- salt and pepper
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeds removed, diced
- 6 cups spinach
- Prepare the quinoa with the water and salt, according to package instructions. Set aside to cool.
- Rinse and sort the lentils, then combine them with the water, salt, garlic and herbs in a pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20-30 minutes until tender. Drain any excess water and set aside to cool. Remove the whole herbs.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the vegetables with the harissa, if using, or a bit of oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until the vegetables are as tender as you like, tossing after 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Prepare the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the lentils and mix gently.
- To assemble, layer the following in each of six Mason jars: Lentils, roasted vegetables, quinoa, tomatoes, spinach.
- Store the jars in the fridge for up to one week.
- To serve, shake the ingredients together and pour into a bowl. If desired, microwave for 2-3 minutes for a warm lunch.