If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Especially when the oven’s on! As a result of this daunting summer weather, I decided to make a couple of fresh, simple salads that do not involve the oven. And if, like me, you only have one less-than-efficient window unit, you’re gonna love these recipes. They incorporate lots of wonderful veggies (make ‘em organic!), provide great sources of protein, and are delicious.

The first recipe is Red Lentil Salad. Sorry, it does involve some brief boiling of water in order to cook the lentils. But unlike a lot of lentil recipes, the cooking time on this is super fast, just four minutes. And, hey, save that cooking water and throw it on your withering flowers outside. Once the lentils are cooked, you’re practically at the finish line. Cut up the tomatoes, spinach, and onion. Add the dressing and you’re ready to dig in.

The next salad is Celery Walnut. I don’t usually love celery in lettuce-based salads. However, here we’ve left out the lettuce, added a ton of celery and other veggies, and have even thrown in some walnuts too. The dressing is light and so easy to make that you don’t even have to mix it in a separate bowl.

I prefer to eat both of these salads freshly made, but they’ll do fine in the fridge, too. Double up the ingredients on both of these recipes and bring them to a get-together. They’re much more exciting than that regular tossed salad us vegans usually have to put up with! For great options on organic produce head over to the Farmer’s Market at the Lincoln Square Mall parking lot, Saturdays from 7am to 12pm. Too hot for you? Then get your tote bags and zip over to Strawberry Fields or the Common Ground Co-Op. Enjoy!

Red Lentil Salad

2 cups red lentils
½ pint grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
3 cups baby spinach, julienned
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped

Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp fine herbs
½ tbsp garlic
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ tbsp curry powder
½ tsp salt

Boil about 4 cups water in a large saucepan. Once boiling, turn off the burner and add the lentils. Cook for 4 minutes, then drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, spinach, and red onion. Whisk the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl. Pour over the warm lentils, tossing to coat. Serve immediately.


Celery Walnut Salad

1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup red pepper, diced
3 cups celery, diced
½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup green onions, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets
2 tbsp safflower oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½  tsp salt
½ tbsp pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Serve immediately.