Salads don’t have to mean just eating rabbit food! This dish is really satisfying and will actually keep you feeling full because of the combination of lentils, avocado and walnuts. This is good enough to eat on its own or would make the perfect side salad for your dinner.
Fennel, a part of the carrot family, has been used medicinally for centuries. It contains essential oils that help that relieve digestive discomfort, like flatulence and bloating. It does this by relaxing the stomach and promoting movement of your digestive system. A substance called anethole in fennel (responsible for its distinctive aroma and flavour) is thought to fight inflammation and carcinogenesis, reducing your risk of developing cancer. Throw a little potassium, fibre and antioxidants into the mix and it’s clear to see why this herb has always been so popular. Next up, lentils! These pulses are cheap, nutritious and so easy to prepare. Consumption of lentils will do wonders for your blood cholesterol levels. It's full of both soluble and insoluble fibre. The soluble fibre helps to remove cholesterol from the body, while the insoluble fibre prevents constipation and improves digestive disorders like IBS. Lentils are rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, most notably folate. Folate is critical for preventing neural tube defects in fetuses but it's also very important for your heart health. It reduces levels of homocysteine in the blood, an amino acid that can damage to artery walls when levels rise too high. Another mineral in lentils that's important for heart health is magnesium. It helps veins and arteries to relax and improves blood flow throughout the body. Studies have also shown that magnesium deficiency is associated with a heart attack. Now if this doesn't make you want to eat lentils we don't know what will!
For the salad:
- 1 x bulb of fennel
- 1 x can of lentils (drained and rinsed)
- 1 x avocado (roughly diced)
- ½ green chilli (finely chopped)
- 1 x orange (peeled and sliced)
- 2 x fresh sprigs of mint (plus a few torn leaves to decorate)
- handful roughly chopped walnuts (we roasted them first)
For the dressing:
- 1 TBSP tahini
- 1 TBSP honey (maple for a vegan option)
- 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- juice from ½ orange
- salt & pepper to taste
- For the fennel, remove the roots and the stem and cut the bulb in half. Then remove the outer wilted layer and the tough core.
- Next, you can either use a knife to thinly slice the bulb, use a mandoline or use a shredding disc in your food processor.
- Add the fennel to a bowl with the lentils, green chilli, mint, orange and walnuts.
- Make the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients together.
- Mix the dressing through the salad and then gently stir the avocado through.
- You can top with a couple of extra walnuts and mint if you'd like.
- Best served at room temperature!