Normally I don’t mind leaving everything until the evening since I genuinely love chopping and stirring and cooking, but in this hot weather it was a relief to have something quick and delicious.This recipe was born from two recipes. One was for a Maple Balsamic Sauce from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan that I first tried a couple of months ago. I found it so addicting that I couldn’t wait to make it again. I even made it in the microwave so as to avoid getting a pot sticky and turning on the burner. I paired it with a take on a lentil salad from my new favorite cookbook, Raising the Salad Bar. My version included more vegetables than the original and traded walnuts for raw cashews. The resulting salad contained lentils, red bell pepper, summer squash, carrots, raisins, and cashews all tossed in the yummy dressing. I took my summery creation out to my building’s pool and enjoyed it on a lawn chair with a big bottle of water.
The verdict: I really enjoyed this salad! I wasn’t quite sure how it would all turn out since I have only had lentils one other time in my life in Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Hummus. However I was pleasantly surprised with the results. As always, the sauce/dressing was fantastic and probably would be even if it were slathered on cardboard. It worked really well with the crunchy vegetables and the earthy lentils. Even the raisins, which I am not usually a fan of, offered a nice balance with their sweet flavor. And the cashews….well, I’m convinced they taste delicious in almost everything. It reminded me of getting a salad at one of my favorite restaurants in Minnesota, Cafe Latte. The best way to describe Cafe Latte is as an upscale cafeteria. They are best known for their unbelievable desserts, but also have great soups, spreads, and sandwiches, and my favorite, an array of pre-made salads. I know pre-made salads can conjure up images of mayo-laced classics at the grocery store deli counter, but Cafe Latte’s offerings far surpass this. They usually fuse diverse flavors together and always feature exceptionally fresh ingredients. I always love when a meal brings me back to a particular memory or a special place in my life and this salad definitely did that.