Carrots are rarely the star of any dish, but in this green lentil salad recipe from One Green Planet, the spiced carrots really shine. You can spiralize your carrots, but I recommend using a peeler to get thin, pretty ribbons for your salad. If you can find red, purple, or yellow carrots, give them a try!
The Health Benefits of Carrots
This humble root veggie is known for its eye-promoting properties, but did you know studies have linked a diet high in fruits and vegetables, like carrots, to a substantially reduced risk of some cancers, too?[1, 2, 3] Falcarinol, the most bioactive flavonoid in carrots, may help stimulate the body’s cancer-fighting mechanisms. Carrot seeds may also offer wound-healing, cholesterol-lowering, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, cognitive, and fertility benefits.
Long before they were cultivated as food, carrots were used medicinally. The Ancient Greeks collected and crushed wild carrot seeds to use as a contraceptive. Ayurvedic medicine considered carrots an aphrodisiac, stimulant, and treatment for bladder and kidney conditions. In the Middle Ages, wild carrots were used as a purgative and antiparasitic, to treat edema and diabetes, soothe sores, and reduce swelling.
Why Are Carrots Orange?
The orange carrot we’re familiar with didn’t come around until the 15th and 16th centuries in Central Europe. The original, edible varieties were red, purple, white, and yellow. They each have different health benefits that are tied to their phytonutrient concentration. Red carrots are rich in lycopene, purple carrots in anthocyanins, and yellow carrots in lutein, which may help prevent macular degeneration.
The first edible carrots were purple and first cultivated in Afghanistan 5000 years ago. Fast forward a few thousand years, and carrot varieties spread to Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Orange carrots originated in Holland in the 17th century from Dutch varieties. At the time, the Dutch were considered the leaders in carrot development. Their “modern” orange carrot was especially rich in beta-carotene.
The story of why orange became the dominant color could be a political one. Dutch farmers in the city of Hoorn may have shown their silent support of a nobleman, William of Orange, who was fighting for Dutch independence by growing the orange tubers. Later, carrots were actually banned for their provocative orange hue. Unlike purple carrots, orange carrots don’t leech dark purple pigments into surrounding foods during the cooking process. This may explain why the orange carrot became the dominant color in Western supermarkets. Soups and stews look more appetizing when they’re not dyed brown.
The prep time for this recipe is about fifteen minutes and the recipe itself will yield three servings. To cook lentils quickly, soak them for at least four hours (overnight is better) and then boil until tender, about fifteen minutes. Alternatively, you can boil dry lentils until tender, about an hour.
Green Lentil Salad with Spiced Carrots Recipe
- Soak time: 4 hours to overnight
- Prep time: 15 minutes
- Cook time: 15 minutes
- Total time: 4.5 hours
- Serves: 3 people
- Vegetable peeler
- Cutting board
- 2 mixing bowls, one large and one small
- Chef’s knife, large serrated knife for cutting lettuce
- 2 large carrots, peeled and turned and shaved into ribbons with vegetable peeler
- 2 tablespoons organic raisins, roughly chopped (optional)
- 3 tablespoons of organic lemon juice
- 1 ½ tablespoon of organic Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon of organic extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of organic maple syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon of organic ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon of organic garam masala
- 1/8 teaspoon of Himalayan salt or sea salt
- Freshly ground organic black pepper, to taste
Green Lentil Salad
- 4 small heads of organic Romaine lettuce, finely chopped
- 2 cups of organic baby spinach
- 1 cup of organic green lentils, soaked overnight and cooked until tender
- 2 stalks of organic spring onion, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh organic parsley
- 3 tablespoons fresh organic mint
- 3 tablespoons fresh organic cilantro (optional)
- Shave your carrots into long, thin strips using a vegetable peeler. Add them to your mixing bowl.
- On a cutting board, roughly chop the raisins and add to carrots.
- In a glass jar or other sealed container, combine lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, maple syrup, cumin, garam masala, salt, and black pepper. Seal and shake well.
- Pour mixture on top of the carrots and stir until well coated. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the salad.
Green Lentil Salad
- Combine Romaine lettuce, baby spinach, green lentils, spring onion, parsley, mint, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the spiced carrots, stir well, and enjoy!
A Word About Cilantro
The cilantro is entirely optional, but I think it's a great addition and it pairs quite nicely with the spices in this recipe. I personally regard the amount of cilantro in this recipe as more of a “suggested minimum” and quadruple the amount for maximum taste and enjoyment.
- Chan, M, Furong Wang, and Elizabeth A Holly. “Vegetable and Fruit Intake and Pancreatic Cancer in a Population-Based Case-Control Study in the San Francisco Bay Area.” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 14.9 (2005): 2093–2097. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.
- Boggs, Deborah A, et al. “Fruit and Vegetable Intake in Relation to Risk of Breast Cancer in the Black Women’s Health Study.” American Journal of Epidemiology 172.11 (2010): 1268–1279. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.
- Wilkens, Lynne R, et al. “Vegetables, Fruits, Legumes and Prostate Cancer: A Multiethnic Case-Control Study.” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 9.8 (2000): 795–804. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.
- Publishing, Scientific Research. “Nutritional and Health Benefits of Carrots and Their Seed Extracts.” Food and Nutrition Sciences 05. (2014): 2147. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.
- Foster, Steven, and Rebecca L Johnson. “National geographic” Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2008. ebook.
- ISHS. Chronica HORTICULTURAE. A PUBLICATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR HORTICULTURAL SCIENCE. 2011. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.
- “The Royal History of the... Carrot??” RNW Media, n.d. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.
- Denker, Joel. “The Carrot Purple.” Food Passages. Food Passages, n.d. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.