The chef: Joe Nader, 42, executive chef for Levy Restaurants at Ford Field
Inspiration for the dish: To offset the many heavy dishes served on this holiday, Nader created a “healthy dish that tastes really good but still envelops the seasonal aspect of Thanksgiving.”
With its rainbow of vegetables and alternative grains like quinoa, this salad fits the bill and is perfect for vegetarian and meat-eating guests alike. Plus, it’s a beautiful dish.
“It looks like fall — with the reds, oranges, greens, browns — on a plate,” Nader says.
One twist, Nader points out, is that he uses raw sweet potato. Cutting it into small dice or thinly slicing it adds lots of crunch to the salad.
And the mint may seem odd, but it’s Nader’s way of adding another layer of fresh flavor. This brightens up the dish, he says, while retaining its flavor profile.
Nader will serve it in the Hall of Legends at Ford Field on Thanksgiving Day when the Lions play the Green Bay Packers.
His tips: Make this salad more colorful by using a mix of quinoa (regular or red) as well as a blend of different-colored lentils. Also, it can be made ahead of time.
“It’s so easy to make and holds really well,” he says. “And because the grains are hearty, it stands up and doesn’t get soggy.”
Fall Harvest Quinoa and Lentil Salad
Serves: 12 / Preparation time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
1½ cups quinoa
5 cups water
1½ cups lentils
½ cup green onion
½ cup diced red pepper
2 tablespoons diced red onion
½ cup mix of sliced orange and white carrots
½ cup diced sweet potatoes
½ cup cooked butternut squash, diced
½ cup fresh corn off cob
6 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Rinse quinoa several times and drain well. In two separate pots, bring 2½ cups water to a boil. Add the quinoa to one and cook 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes, fluff with fork and let cool. Add lentils to the other and cook al dente, drain and cool.
Meanwhile, chop the green onions, red pepper, red onion, carrots, sweet potatoes and squash into ¼-inch dice. In a large pot, quick-steam the squash, and if desired the sweet potatoes, carrots and corn until just crisp tender. Remove from the pot and cool. In a small bowl combine the orange juice, lime juice and balsamic vinegar.
Just before serving, place the cooled quinoa and lentils in a serving dish. Add the juice mixture and toss to coat; fold in all vegetables, garlic and mint. Season the salad to taste with salt and pepper just before serving.
From Joe Nader, executive chef, Levy Restaurants, Ford Field. Not tested. Nutrition information not available.