One thing that my family and I love is to visit "pick-your-own" fruit and veggie farms. It feels good to take a break from our urban kind of life. It's really about getting to know were our food comes from and understanding the whole process from farming to what ends up on our plates. Most food in our stores have been cultivated for their shipping qualities rather than taste. Therefore, it gives my kids a chance to understand where their food comes from and gives us the opportunity to taste ripe fruits and veggies.
Last weekend, on our way back from the beach, we stopped at a small organic farm (the Crystal Bay farm, in Watsonville) to pick up strawberries and raspberries. It was a small charming farm, with few rows of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and pumpkins (I can't believe that this time of year is already here!). On our way to the farm, we saw tons of perfect strawberries fields, with many gatherers picking them up . When we arrived to our small "U-pick farm", we realized that those perfect fields we saw earlier were probably all sprayed with chemicals because the strawberries we had in front of us were normal plants of strawberries with normal imperfections! But the taste was incredible!!!! Seeing Mila and Noah in contact with nature and playing with dirt is our definition of a relaxing and revitalizing afternoon.
In the car, I though about a way to use my 6 boxes of berries. At first, I thought about doing a dessert. With that wonderful berry aroma, who wouldn't ? But time was running out and the kids were hungry so I needed to do something fast for dinner. I decided to combined the berries with Forbidden rice and black lentils and created a lovely, classy, high protein and delicious salad. The legend says this small black rice was originally grown essentially for the emperors of China.
I have to say sweet salads are my favorites. I'm picky on salads (I think I ate too much "mesclun with olive-balsamic" in the past!). I like a salad that has texture (crunchiness is really important!) and that includes a combination of tastes in one bite.
Forbidden rice, black lentils and berries salad
Adapted from the Green Kitchen stories cookbook
Yield : serves 4-6
3/4 cup Forbidden rice (or wild rice)
1/2 cup black lentils
1 green onion, chopped
150 g cooked "al dente" green beans (or a handful), chopped (or chopped "al dente" asparagus)
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
2 cup fresh raspberries
10 minced basil leaves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1.5 tablespoon maple syrup (or agave nectar)
1.5 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the rice as indicated. Set aside and cool down.
- Rinse the lentils under running water. Cook in 2 cups of water and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes (it may indicate more time on the bag's indications, but for salads, I prefer when they are tender, not too cooked). Drain the liquid and rinse. Set aside.
- Mix all the salad ingredients together and add the cooled lentils and rice.
- Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and add to the salad. Carefully toss everything together (raspberries and lentils are kind of fragile...).
- Serve with minced basil leaves, hemp seeds and baby sprouts (I used kale sprouts).
Note : If you're not vegan, you could top the salad with goat cheese feta for a punch of salt, but the salad is already complete and savoury! Double the recipe, it's perfect for lunchs !