Avocado Lentil Salad – How to Eat more Iron in your Diet

This avocado lentil salad is a delicious and healthy side dish especially in the summer. It is healthy without tasting like health food. The mountain lentils are aromatic and earthy with the fresh cucumber and quick pickled bell peppers giving it extra flavour and texture. The avocado is a nice pop of colour whilst adding a certain nuttiness to the salad. Post updated June 7th, 2020.

When I first saw the recipe this was based on in the Aldi inspiriert magazine Juli/August issue (magazine online in German only), I was both sceptical and intrigued. It just looked so much like something a yoga fanatic would order at brunch after an exhausting session of alpaca guided meditation. That is when you would have a lentil salad garnished with pomegranate seeds, right? Yet the recipe also intrigued me, because I have not eaten lentils in years. I just don’t like that mushy texture and the overpowering earthy flavour but I know that it is a great source plant-based iron. Although I am not a vegetarian I more often than not choose a vegetarian dish over one that contains meat. Most recipes on this blog have a vegetarian or even vegan variation. Therefore most iron has to come from a plant-based source.

Daily Recommendation: Iron

In order to consume the recommended daily amount of iron as a woman (which is 15 mg for women and 10 mg for men between 19-50, and 10 mg each after that) you would have to eat 360 gr of almonds or 555 gr of spinach but only 187 gr of lentils. This alone makes it clear to me that I probably don’t consume enough iron on a regular basis. Obviously other foods contain iron and you don’t have to consume everything in lentils, but it puts nutrition as a whole in perspective when considering what you eat throughout the day. One should also say that plant-sourced iron is harder to absorb, so it is recommended to consume vitamin c with whatever plant-based iron source you are consuming. Anaemia is not fun and once you are deficient in iron it is hard to replenish the iron storage through nutrition alone. Clearly we should attempt not getting deficient to begin with and this salad is a good step into the right direction. (Find more information here if this topic interests you)

Lentil Salad Gone Rogue

As I said in the beginning the recipe was based on a recipe I saw in an Aldi inspiriert magazine, but the only thing left from that recipe were three ingredients: the mountain lentils, the avocado and the red onion. The salad was just too flavourless and one note in texture. Even when watching the lentils like a hawk they overcook quickly and they are not that hard and chewy to begin with. Keep in mind you might have to actually reduce the cooking time. But even with the lentils cooked to perfection it was just too mushy and flavourless, so I did what I always do and went rogue and this came out of it. It went from bland and boring to vibrant and delicious. It has a lot of colour, texture and flavour which makes eating lentils fun. If they weren’t so hard to digest I’d eat this salad everyday, although soaking the dry lentils overnight in cold water and a form of acid is supposed to help against that. I definitely have to try that.

Avocado Lentil Salad

Ingredients for 4 portions:
• 200 gr lentils (mountain lentils, beluga lentils or any other variety suitable for salads)
• 1/3 cucumber
• 1 bell pepper
• 1 red onion
• 1 avocado
• Salad herbs, parsley or coriander (fresh or d dried)
• Salt
• Pepper
• Vinegar
• Olive oil
• Piri Piri Sauce

Instructions:
1. Rinse the lentils with cold water and bring them to a boil in lightly salted water, reduce the heat to low. Cook the lentils until al dente (check the packet instructions and start checking them ten minutes before their recommended cooking time ends) and drain the lentils. Rinse them with cold water and set aside to cool completely for later.
2. Cube or slice the onion (up to personal preference although sliced onion might be more a aesthetically pleasing) and add them to the lentils.
3. Cube the cucumber and red bell pepper and add them to the lentils.
4. Make a vinaigrette some olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and mix it with the lentil salad. Season it to taste with a few drops of Piri Piri Sauce, pepper and herbs of your choice.
5. Halve the avocado, remove the stone and scoop it out with a spoon. Cut it into cubes and stir it into the salad or place avocado slices on top.

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