There is a definite autumnal feel to the air up here in Scotland. The sun is out on this bright unseasonably chilled August day, but it holds little warmth. I don’t know about you but today, walking to a friend’s house, I had to turn back and pop on not only a jacket, but a scarf too. My hands were also chilled, but I couldn’t bear to dig out the gloves so in my pockets they went. Perhaps it is time to put the fan back in the garage…
With my ‘thin’ Florida blood I know I feel the Scottish cold more than most people my age (I have had chilblains in June!), but I can’t quite give up on salads just yet. Certainly not this warm one. I have been transitioning into soups and bits on bread (more on that soon), but salads are still on the menu here at food to glow. At least until the first frosts. Which may be just around the corner, apparently.
This end of summer kind of salad brings the smells and tastes of southern India into your kitchen. And sunshine too, in the ovoid form of saffron-bright mango. Even if the sun isn’t shining we can always rely on slices of juicy mango to sub in for that other – fickle – orb. Just leaning over the sink eating one (all the best mangos need eating over a sink, or in a bath) will transport you to a sunny and – crucially – warm place.
Although the quinoa is of course not typical of southern India, turmeric, cumin, mustard seed, coconut, mango, shallots, leaf coriander and lentils are. Also sneaking into the dish is the more northerly garam masala; use it if you have it but this salad is lovely with just the other spices.
What’s your weather like right now? Are you eating for the season, or clinging on for dear life to your sandals and salad lifestyle? Perhaps you Antipodeans are switching off the fire and gearing up for summer foods. Let us know!
Golden Mango and Quinoa Salad with Lentils, Shaved Coconut and Crispy Cumin Shallots
We can’t get enough of this sunny salad. To make this salad super-quick, use pre-cooked lentils and quinoa; I like to keep a stash of both in the freezer for just such dishes.
Freshly-made this is a great lunch or supper, but it also makes for tremendous leftovers (think healthy bagged lunch). Just bring it to room temperature or gently steam/microwave to warm. Keep the mangos and leaf coriander separate if you think you may wish to do the latter. Top Tip: Make more crispy shallots than you need, storing in the refrigerator to add to other savoury dishes throughout the week.
3 tbsp coconut oil or light rapeseed/canola oil – divided use
½ aubergine/eggplant (approx. 130g/2 cups, diced), 1.5 cm/ ½ inch dice
100g (scant 3/4 c) raw cashews
6 shallots or 1 red onion (or more for extra)
¼ – ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsp garam masala
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp black pepper
275g (2 cups) cooked quinoa
300g (1 ½ c) cooked Puy or Puy-type lentils
3 rounded tbsp dried sour cherries, barberries or raisins – or a mixture, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes then drained (I don’t always do that and it’s fine)
1 mango, peeled and flesh diced
¼ small coconut, shelled and flesh shaved OR use quality, dried coconut
Small bunch of leaf coriander, torn
Lime juice or tamarind puree – optional
1 red chilli, deseed and sliced – optional
Chilli flakes – optional
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Toss the diced aubergine with ¾ tbsp. of oil and bake until just starting to look golden, and when pressed are quite soft but not mushy – about 12 minutes. Depends on your oven. Set aside.
- Pop the cashews on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 8 minutes. Set aside.
- Meanwhile heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a wok or wide shallow pan. When it is at a low-medium heat add the shallots and a pinch of salt, tossing around in the oil (TIP: the salt helps prevent burning). Stir frequently to prevent burning. You want them to be soft and deep golden brown, but not burnt. Add in the cumin seeds when you feel the shallots are nearly ready. Maybe add a pinch of sugar too. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Set aside for now.
- Add the remaining ¼ tbsp. of oil to the same pan along with the remaining spices. Let this sizzle for 30 seconds then add in the cooked quinoa, lentils, sour cherries and most of the toasted cashews. Stir and toss for a couple of minutes then add the cooked aubergine. Add a little water, or mango juice from the mango stone, if you feel it needs it. Taste for seasoning, adding a little lime juice or tamarind if needs be for balance.
- Almost ready to eat! Pop all into a large serving bowl and toss through the mango pieces, coconut and leaf coriander. Top with the crispy shallots, chilli slices and the remaining cashews. Serve warm.
P.S. I’ve served this with a mango lassi. I just kind of made mine up, but if you want a proper recipe see this one over at Chilli and Mint.
Nutrition: Lentil Love! Lens ensculenta – lentils -punch well above their weight in the nutritional stakes. Fibre, of course, but also a host of vitamins and minerals, including a ridiculous amount of folate, which is essential for heart health. These ‘great balls of fibre’ are fantastic for energy, stabilising blood sugar and lowering cholesterol. And they are incredibly versatile too, being perfect for adding protein and fibre to many dishes. Here’s more information on this wonderful plant.
Lentil Recipes on Food To Glow:
Shepherdess Pie (and oldie but a favourite)