Beluga Lentil Salad with Avocado, Apple and Summer Herbs

Beluga Lentil Salad with Avocado, Apple and Summer Herbs
People, I have the salad for you and all of your summer expeditions!

It's summer, so portable food is on my mind all of the time.  If we're heading out the door for a day of adventure, I'm thinking about what we're going to eat when we stop to take a lunch break.  I mean hey, a girl's gotta eat, and I like my food to taste good no matter where I am.

When you're packing food that's going to be stuffed in a backpack or cooler and then hanging out and jostled for several hours before you sit down and eat it, you don't want something that's too fussy about temperature, nor something that's going to fall apart.

A lunch of Beluga Lentil Salad with Avocado, Apple and Summer Herbs as the fog lifts

There's another problem in the summer:  since we are on the go so much, I don't keep the fridge full of ingredients, because chances are good that we won't be home to eat them.  So on a recent weekend trek, while scrounging through the last dregs of raw ingredients in fridge, cupboard, and freezer, I came up with this salad that has since become a favorite.  It's easy to make and can be served at room temperature or chilled, which means you can make it the day before and eat out of your fridge for lunch or dinner, or you can pack it in sealed container in your backpack, let it bounce along as you hike the trails out to the sea, and then dine al fresco watching the swans swim calmly and gracefully while the seagulls soar, dip, beg and squawk overhead.

Swans near Porkkalanniemi, Kirkkonummi, Finland
We took this picnic out to Porkkalanniemi, a natural reserve in Kirkkonummi on the edge of the sea about one hour's drive from Helsinki.  There are 40 hectares of trails out there, and I would guess from the little green berries and bright flowers on the bilberry, raspberry, lingonberry and wild strawberry bushes, that those who like to forage will be well-rewarded in this area in a couple of weeks when everything is ripe.  If you want to take something to grill, there are covered grilling areas for public use.

Take a swimsuit and test the summer waters - it's a lot warmer than it looks!

Time for a swim - Finnish summer at it's finest!
If you are into bird watching, grab your binoculars and head out to the rocky shoreline of Porkkalanniemi - it's a rewarding and peaceful place to watch your feathered friends at work and play.

Wild Roses bloom along the rocky shoreline
Back to the salad:  I used Beluga lentils here because they keep their shape when cooked and have a great texture and a beautiful color that looks good mixed in with the vegetables.  Apple adds a sweetness, Red Pepper a splash of color and flavor, Avocado a smoothness, and the mint and parsley add a summer freshness that plays well with the other flavors. The lemon juice and olive oil combine together to form a simple dressing with the added bonus of taking the biting edge off of the onion and preventing the apple and avocado from browning.

Take 20 minutes to make this salad, then head out the door for some more summer fun.  Let the good times roll.

Beluga Lentil Salad with Avocado, Apple and Summer Herbs

Beluga Lentil Salad with Avocado, Apple & Summer Herbs

In small pot combine:
1 cup Beluga lentils, rinsed
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt. 

Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer; simmer 20 minutes, then drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.

In a medium sized bowl combine:
3/4 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1 medium-sized red pepper, chopped
1 ripe avocado, chopped
1 medium sweet, firm apple, chopped (fresh pineapple would be excellent as well)
juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

Stir to combine and allow the mixture to rest while the lentils cook.  When the lentils are done, add them to the vegetable mixture and stir well to combine.

Serves 4.

Great for picnics, hikes and day trips.  Can be easily doubled or tripled.

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