Spicy warm lentil, apricot and pine nut salad
Preparation: 40 minutes
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup dried apricots, finely sliced
2-3 spring onions (shallots, scallions), finely chopped
juice and rind of 1 large lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 large punnet (or 2 cups) mushrooms, rinsed well and sliced
2 2/3 cups cooked lentils, or 2 cans (425 grams/15 ounces each) lentils, drained
2/3 cup fresh pine nuts
1/2 cup fresh coriander (cilantro) or Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 cups green leaves, to serve
1 avocado, peeled and sliced, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/335 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place the onion quarters on the tray and bake for about 45 minutes. (You can leave the onions out and move onto step three below.) Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the apricot slivers in a large bowl. Then, in a jug, combine half the spring onions, all the lemon juice, rind, olive oil and seasoning, and pour over the apricot slivers.
Place a large saucepan over medium heat, add the cumin and coriander and stir continuously for 1-2 minutes, until you can smell their aroma. Add the mushrooms and stir until they are coated with the spices, and then cook for about 15 minutes, until their juices are released and they become dry. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, add the baked onions to the apricot mixture.
Add the lentils to the mushrooms, and then mix through the apricot mixture. (You want the lentils to maintain their shape and still be slightly warm when you eat them, so stir them in carefully.)
Sprinkle with the remaining spring onions, pine nuts and coriander or parsley, and serve immediately with slices of avocado on a bed of fresh green leaves.
(Variations: Replace the pine nuts with almonds, shelled pistachios or sunflower seeds. If you cannot find dried apricots, use 5-6 fresh apricots instead.