Wednesday 16 February 2011

NCR Creamy lentil salad

I didn't make this creamy lentil and date salad on Friday because the car broke down. Instead Sylvia and I had chippies at Sea Salt in Carlton while we chatted to a friendly stranger and then caught the tram home. It was not an evening for cooking. Instead I made the salad the next night. I loved it on Saturday. I served it with a creamy soup and the salad seemed the winner of the two recipes.

I was intrigued when I saw Trudy's recipe on Veggie Num Num. Dates and lentils seem a good combination but it is an unusual one in a salad. Since my raw brownie failure, I have now found where I can buy medjool dates locally. They landed in the frypan of lentils in a large clump and were loathe to separate. The lentils were not as I had expected. They were dry and looked unappealing. The dressing was also a little dry. I find that yoghurt just dries out tahini so I added a bit of water which made it creamy but maybe a bit too liquid.

Fortunately, I was more successful with creating a spice mix to use in lieu of Trudy's Greek spice mix. This is a salad of many parts that come together to create an amazing combination of sweet and spicy, of crunchy and creamy.

The salad did not come together quickly. Not much does in my life right now. I made the salad in between keeping a watchful eye on Sylvia, feeding her dinner and getting her ready for bed. The phone rang. The Greek neighbours had a noisy party filled with plate smashing and oompa! There was an item on the news that I wanted to concentrate on. Another neighbour knocked at the door to borrow my tin of cinnamon. So it will not surprise you when I say that my salad did not present beautifully like Trudy's nor did I use any garnishes. By the time I served dinner, I was ready to sit down and eat.

We had the leftovers the next day straight from the fridge and it was not as good. This salad is best eaten at room temperature. I served it with soup but all it really needs is a good loaf of bread or maybe some brown rice to make a meal.

I am sending this salad to Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes for the No Croutons Required blog event that she hosts with Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen. This month the theme is creamy salads or soups.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: CNY Potluck, Pearl Balls and Healthy Treats
This time two years ago: Tofu Burgers and Tennis
This time three years ago: Vina Bar: one of Lygon Street’s best

Creamy lentil, date and veggie salad
Adapted from Veggie Num Num
Serves 4
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g (14 oz) tinned or cooked brown lentils (approx 2 cups)
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • shake of cayenne and cinnamon,
  • 5 fresh dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1/2 green capsicum, chopped
  • 1/2 telegraph cucumber, chopped
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced


  • 2 fresh chillies, finely chopped (I used 1/2 tsp chilli paste)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (I used 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened non-dairy or dairy yoghurt or water

to serve

  • thinly sliced preserved lemon (optional)
  • fresh mint or thyme (optional)
Heat olive oil in a frypan and cook lentils and celery in oil for a few minutes. Add dates and herbs, spices and salt. (My dates were really clumpy so maybe I should have separated them and scattered them in the frypan.) Cook another 1-2 minutes until lentils are dry. Set aside.

Prepare dressing by mixing all ingredients together. Add a little water to make the mixture creamy, if necessary.

Mix tomatoes, capsicums, cucumber and spring onion in a large bowl. Top with lentil mixture and dressing. I mixed mine to serve but Trudy served hers with layers of vegetables, lentils and dressing.

On the Stereo:
Peaceful Snow: Death in June


  1. I love the idea of this! Dates and lentils and tahini! I used to hate sweetness in savoury meals (blame my mum's lamb and prune casserole...) but I'm coming around to it. Mostly because I now like sweet in everything ;)

  2. This is a very unique salad with a great mixture of flavors. Lovely entry!

  3. Not good news about your car ... but at least you got a chippy ;0)
    Can't blame you for not wanting to cook when you got home either, some days its just not meant to be. But Saturday's efforts look fantastic and sounds so delish too ;0)

  4. I have an abundance of lentils at the moment so I will have to give this recipe a try. Apparently I keep buying bags of lentils because I think we are all out , only to return home and find that we are well and truly stocked up!

  5. interesting salad Johanna!

    And I am with you on time, daily tasks and blogging. *sigh*

  6. That looks really delicious Johanna! Sounds like you are a very busy lady! Sorry to hear about your car, I hope it gets fixed soon :)

  7. It sounds like a very tasty salad! I have never thought of mixing lentils and dates in a salad... now you got me thinking about this combination and will try it soon.

  8. Sounds like a great salad! I think it looks appealing! Sorry about your car trouble though...

  9. I have been seriously craving bean salads lately and this looks great! THe date combo is so intriguing...

  10. Thanks Hannah - I have a kidney bean and prune casserole that I love - in fact I much prefer prunes to dates but I suspect I don't use them often in savoury - hope this salad will help convince you a little sweet in some savoury can work

    Thanks Sarah - yes unique though I think I recently saw a carrot salad with dates in it - and a sweet potato one too so many dates in salad is not so unusual

    Thanks Chele - I think chippies and a ride home on a tram was a great adventure for Sylvia - helped me feel less despondent about it - and the chippies were good. Also feel better about it now because the car is fixed (touchwood)

    Thanks Lisa - I understand about stocking up just a little too much - I have done this with dried dates and now every recipe seems to call for fresh dates - grrrrr

    Thanks Anh - if only bloggers could be granted a few extra hours in the day as a reward for services to the blogosphere - sigh!

    Thanks Lorraine - the car is fixed - phew! but life continues to be busy - don't know if it a good or bad thing that I have had so few breakdowns that I am not very good at knowing what to do!

    Thanks K - oh yes!

    Thanks Vanessa - hope you enjoy it - I think it might be a middle eastern style of salad though I am not completely sure

    Thanks Jenn - it was a nice dinner to follow an unsettled night - I just want to live in a world where cars never break down

    Thanks Joanne - what a great craving - so many great beany salads out there

  11. Tasty flavours there Johanna. Very original! Thanks for submitting it :)

  12. Sounds fantastic. Thanks for your entry this month.

  13. Now, that does sound intriguing! I've had a lentil and dried apricot salad before (mmm, thinking I must make it again!) and really enjoyed it, so I bet I'd like this one, too. Sorry to hear about the car--hope all is well now!

  14. Hi Johanna,

    I've been following your blog for sometime now and absolutely love it. Thank-you so much for sharing your delicious recipes with me (and everybody else). As a fellow Melbournian I am intrested in laying my hands on some medjool dates (pref. Australian grown) but have had trouble finding them. I tried A1 on Sydney Rd, but couldn't work out if the dates they had were medjool or not. Where did you get yours? Cheers. :)

  15. Thanks Meg - glad you enjoy! I actually couldn't see medjool dates for ages and I finally found them at a middle eastern place just between the two coles in Coburg (I think it is on waterford st) but I have now also seen them in the fruit and veg section of the Coburg Coles on Sydney Rd and I saw them the other day - they are about - hope that helps (by the way I asked about if the dates were medjool when I bought them and then I saw the label on the box and felt a bit silly)

  16. Cheers. I'll keep my eyes peeled.

  17. I've never tried dates in a salad! I never really liked dates but then I've started to bake with them a lot more and they're starting to grow on me.


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