Liver Happy Lentil & Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad (V, GF)
I first tried this pasta salad at a party my sister was hosting. She is vegan, and because of that I am frequently experimenting with vegan recipes for the whole family to share. This one became and instant favorite of mine because of how nutritionally dense and liver supportive it is.
The lentils in this dish make it high in fiber. Fiber helps remove waste from the body and lowers cholesterol. One serving offers about 15 g of fiber (women should aim for 25g of fiber per day, men about 30-35g of fiber).
Protein is also important for liver health. The amino acids in protein are needed for cell regeneration. People who have cirrhosis of the liver or other liver related issues (such as hormone imbalances or heavy metal poisoning) will need to up their protein intake to facilitate liver cell regeneration. Protein also contains glutathione, which is a protective antioxidant for the liver. This dish has about 18g per serving, especially if you opt for a chickpea/ lentil, gluten free pasta, as I detailed below.
There are quite a bit of onions in this dish, but I find that it's not overpowering since it is balanced well by the acidity of the balsamic vinegar. Onions are a detox super food. They are high in allicin, which helps flush the liver and keep the immune system strong. Garlic has similar immune boosting effects. Plus, the sulfur contained in onions and garlic not only facilitate glutathione production, but keeps our skin clear and our hair strong.
Lastly, herbs! Herbs are an excellent and inexpensive way to add medicinal compounds to any meal. For this dish, I chose cilantro. Cilantro chelates heavy metals from the body. This is important, especially for those who have a MTHFR genetic mutation and thus have difficulties in detoxification. For all the breastfeeding moms out there, cilantro is also useful in stimulating milk flow, so add it to your daily smoothie with some lemon. If you don't like cilantro, you can replace it with parsley, which is a powerful liver and urinary cleanser.
1 1/2 cups of dried lentil
2 1/2 cups of water
1 vegetable bullion cube
1 cup red onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried thyme
1/2 cup sun dried tomato, chopped
1/4 cup of green onion, chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 package of gluten free fusilli pasta ( I like Explore Cuisine Chickpea Fusilli)
In a sauce pan, place lentils, water and a bouillon cube and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20-25 mins. Be careful not to overcook the lentils.
While the lentils cook, add onions, vinegar and salt to a bowl and let marinate. Prepare the other ingredients and add to the bowl, BUT DO NOT STIR. Keep the onions buried at the bottom of the bowl so they can fully soften.
Prepare pasta, following directions on the box.
When lentils and pasta are ready, add to the bowl and stir well.
Serve warm or room temperature.
Store in the refrigerator. Re-dress with oil and vinegar, if needed.
This dish is excellent for picnics and pot-lucks. Definitely a crowd pleaser!