Recipe Series: A Month of Lunches #2

Post by Olivia Martino and Paula Jahn, Registered Dietitians and Owners, Nourish Northwest

Making sure you get protein in your lunch can be a challenge when you are trying to step away from the traditional cold cut sandwich.  This week we wanted to make something that would be a quick and easy protein punch, that would hold up well throughout the week.  These vegan lentil meatballs do the trick.  And because we are going with the strategy of cooking once and eating several times, we also needed to create a veggie dish that would hold up just as well.

The first thing that always pops into our head when faced with this challenge is our favorite massaged kale salad.  While we have made this salad quite possibly hundreds of times, we never get sick of it.  We often teach this one in our cooking classes and without fail, our clients tell us that this becomes a staple in their household.  This salad is simple and delicious and many a non-kale eater have been converted by it.  Not only does it hold up well, it gets better throughout the week.  The dressing continues to make the kale easier to digest and the golden raisins soak up the lemon juice, becoming plump and bursting with flavor.  It also lends the perfect balance of salty, sweet and tangy.


Massaged Kale Salad

Adapted from


1 large bunch lacinato kale

zest and juice of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon fish sauce or 1 Tbsp Tamari
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup golden raisins
¼ cup toasted pine nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds or any other nut
1/3 cup grated Pecorino cheese


CUTTING THE KALE. With a sharp knife, cut the kale leaves away from the stems. Pile 4 of the halves on top of each other. Roll them up to make a shape like a cigar. Cut into the “cigar” at 1-inch intervals. This will leave you with ribbons of kale. (This technique is known as chiffonade.) Repeat with the remaining kale. Put it into a large bowl.

MAKING THE DRESSING. Combine the lemon zest, juice, fish sauce or tamari, and  pepper in a small bowl. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil. When the dressing is fully combined, taste it. Season to taste.

FINISHING THE SALAD. Add the golden raisins and pine nuts to the salad. Toss. Drizzle 1/3 of the dressing along the sides of the bowl, so it moves slowly into the kale. Toss the salad with your hands, massaging the dressing into the kale ribbons as you go. If you need it, drizzle in more of the dressing until you feel the salad is fully dressed.

Top with the grated cheese and serve.

Lentil Meatballs

Adapted from


1 cup dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed

1 bay leaf

2 cups vegetable broth (or water)

8 ounces cremini mushrooms (or white mushrooms), sliced

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup red wine

1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce (optional)

2 eggs (or flax eggs if you want this to be vegan*)

sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine lentils, bay leaf, and vegetable broth/water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. (Don’t worry, you want the lentils to be a little undercooked.) Remove from heat, drain and let cool for a few minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
In a food processor, combine the mushrooms, oats, lentils, parsley and spices (oregano, red pepper flakes, thyme and tarragon). Pulse/blend until the mixture is pretty well pulverized but not mush (see photo).
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil, then add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent and turning golden at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Stir in lentil-mushroom mixture and cook until browned, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add red wine and soy sauce to skillet. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and, if you’re using a pan that retains heat like cast iron, transfer the mixture to a heat-safe bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to cool until it is comfortable to handle.
In a small bowl, whisk together two eggs, then thoroughly mix the eggs into the lentil and mushroom mixture. Use your hands to scoop up one small handful of the mixture at a time, shaping it into a golf-ball sized ball (about 1 1/2-inch diameter). Place each “meatball” onto the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space around each one (you should end up with 15 or more meatballs). Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

* To make a flax egg, dissolve 1 Tbsp of ground flax meal in 3 Tbsp water and let sit for at least 15 minutes.

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