Sweet Lentil Salad with Mango and Coconut

First thing is first: I love mango.  It has such a great sweet flavor, and besides grapefruit, it is my favorite fruit.  I have also been looking forward to trying the whole, "balsamic vinegar with fruit" trend that I see with every passing watermelon and feta salad.  I also had some lentils in the pantry that I've been meaning to use for a while now.  Put all three of those things together, and you get this recipe!  Balsamic vinegar, mango, coconut, dried fruit, and a bunch more flavors come together to make this sweet and savory salad!

What You'll Need:
  • 1 1/2 cups dry lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tbsp. flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp. granulated ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp. blue agave
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mango
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp. dried cranberries

1.  Cover your lentils with water in a large pan.  Bring to a rapid boil, add salt to the pan, and then lower heat simmer.  Lentils should be finished cooking when the water absorbs.  It should take about 20-25 minutes.  While that's working, in a small pan, heat the coconut over medium heat and stir until it has browned all around.  Remove from heat and set aside.

2.  In a mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, pumpkin, agave, and brown sugar.  Whisk together until smooth.  Add 2 tbsp. of coconut and mix in as well.

3.  In a large serving bowl, combine the lentils, dressing, salt and pepper, mango, raisins, and cranberries.  Mix well and chill for at least a half hour to let flavors marry.  Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of toasted coconut and serve.

Note: An even better trick to make this recipe healthier, dry your own cranberries! The dried cranberries you find in stores - "craisins" - are packed with lots of sugar and preservatives. You can even use fresh cranberries and cook them down until soft. It's up to you! 


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