Life Changing Kale Lentil Pasta Salad with Maple Pecans (Vegan, Gluten Free)

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life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food
life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food
life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food
life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food
life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food
life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food

I can't let the Summer pass by without sharing this recipe with you. I crave this salad. Which is saying a lot. Because, I mean, it's salad. Salads are not sexy by nature. They don't have much muscle, don't show enough leg. Not like a perfectly poached egg slips open and pours buttery yolk over singed, crispy toast. Not like how a busty, hot Summer melon cut open pours its scent into the room. But this one is luscious and filling and flavorful. And there's pasta in it which -- for me -- gives it that deeper-level, comfort food status. The hot pasta and warm dressing wilts the massaged kale just enough that its naturally fibrous texture subdues and goes silky. And then you've got crunchy pecans and one hot mama of an heirloom tomato to top it off. I could eat this for dinner every night.

life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food
life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food
life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food
life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food

Why is this salad life changing? It's high in protein, packed with dense nutritious greens, with lutein-rich tomatoes and buttery pecans folded in. Yeah, ok. "Healthy" -- check. But the dressing, with caramelized onions and garlic whirred into the mix, is damn delicious. All dressings should be this good. Oh, and the other thing. As I said, the hot pasta wilts the kale further. If you take the time to massage raw kale with olive oil, you'll notice that it never really looses an essential, springy fibrousness that leaves you chewing the equivalent of wet socks in salad form. Becoming a leaf masseuse does help. A lot. But a bit of heat goes a long way when it comes to kale, collards, and that motley crew of dense greens. This is a warm salad best served as soon as everything is mixed together.

life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food
life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food
life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food
life changing kale lentil pasta salad w/ maple pecans | recipe via will frolic for food

Life Changing Kale Lentil Pasta Salad with Maple Pecans (Vegan, Gluten Free)

 

Ingredients

Red Pepper Dressing

  • 1 large sweet white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed, and minced
  • 1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil + 1 tablespoon
  • ½ cup roasted red peppers (I used jarred peppers preserved in water & olive oil)
  • 3 green onions, white & green parts, sliced thinly
  • 6 tablespoons wheat-free Tamari
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon lime juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar

The Salad

  • 1 bunch lacinato kale
  • ½ bunch curly kale
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 cup cooked French blue lentils (I cooked mine with a pinch of salt & ghee)
  • 1 cup cooked gluten free pasta (I used Trader Joe's Rice & Quinoa Fusilli)
  • 1 large heirloom tomato, halved and sliced into wedges
  • ½ cup salted cayenne maple pecans

Instructions

For the dressing

  1. Sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon sesame oil for 5 minutes over high heat, until it begins to turn glassy and translucent and is just barely browning. Add garlic and sauté one minute more. Add sautéed onions and garlic, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, roasted red peppers, green onion, tamari, apple cider vinegar, lime, cayenne, and coconut sugar to a blender. Blend until creamy. Set aside.

Bringing the Salad Together:

  1. Remove the stems from the kale, and chop roughly. Place the kale in your salad bowl, and add 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil to the kale. Massage the kale with your hands for 3-5 minutes to soften the leaves, until they glisten. Add cooked lentils, pasta, and sliced tomato. Drizzle over ½ of the dressing, and toss your salad. Add maple pecans before serving. Keep the dressing on hand so you (and the friends your sharing this with) can drizzle on more depending on their tastes (I like A LOT). Enjoy!