My mother was everything but a fancy cook. In fact, I don’t think she really enjoyed cooking at all, but what she made like no other was her aromatic lentil soup, seasoned with a mix of pre-blended Spanish spices.
Intent on recreating this special soup I so fondly remembered, I developed a similar recipe years ago. It quickly became a Thursday night tradition at my house, one which for some reason, I had forgotten about. Until yesterday when I discovered a pack of lentils hidden away in the back of my pantry.
I used to think breakfast was my favorite meal of the day, but these days it’s lunch I look forward to most. After all, weekday breakfasts are smoothies and vitamins chez nous. The fun stuff like bacon, eggs and bread is usually saved until the weekend. Plus, breakfast is probably the only meal wine doesn’t pair with very well (though every now and then an exception is made for champagne, of course).
It’s not that I make a very big deal out of lunch during the week, but I do make sure to indulge in something that’s both tasty and nutritious. I have never been one for sandwiches, really, with the exception being a well-buttered baguette with raw ham enjoyed in the French sunshine. Most of the time, my lunch consists of freshly-made soups or salads, and it’s usually something vegan or vegetarian. I love bean salads or salads made with healthy grains such as whole wheat couscous or quinoa. Fresh herbs and spices are always thrown in. My favorites include flat leaf parsley (lots of it, and not finely chopped, thanks), ras el hanout, turmeric (very healthy!), smoked Spanish paprika, basil and mint.
I always have beans and grains in the house, and my daily inspiration pretty much comes from whatever’s left in the fridge. Today it was a salad of quinoa, grated carrots, raisins and ras el hanout topped with a few dollops of leftover hummus, for example.
Last week, however, I came up with one salad I knew I had to share with you. It is a perfect combination of both grains and pulses, deliciously spiced with thyme and aromatic Spanish paprika.
I’m confident you’ll also love it. Here’s the recipe:
Lentil & Couscous Salad
- 100g couscous
- 3/4 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt and freshly-cracked pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 200ml boiling water
- 1 can of lentils (400g), drained and rinsed
- 10 sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small red onion, halved and finely sliced
- a small handful of arugula
Put the couscous in a small bowl with a tightly fitting lid and season with the spices and salt and pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and pour in the boiling water. Cover tightly. If you don’t have a lid, use cling film. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Gently stir the rest of the ingredients through the warm couscous and serve. The heat works magic in bringing all the flavors together! The salad keeps very well in the fridge for up to three days.