Grilled Feta, Blackberry & Lentil Salad

Grilled Feta, Blackberry & Caviar Lentil Salad: Purple Reign

I love salads, so it will hardly surprise you to learn that I eat them all year round. In the warmer months, I veer towards the fresher, crisper elements in salads; while during the months when a higher tog rating is needed for duvets, I look for warmer elements: this salad of warm lentils, topped with grilled feta, and a spiced lemon dressing fits the bill. This salad is not only tasty, but it will also supply you with a large portion of your daily folate needs. Who could ask for more: flavour and folate.

Focus on Folate

Lentils are a rich source of folate(1); as are the green leaves and the avocado in this recipe. Folate is the naturally occurring version of vitamin B9; whereas folic acid is the synthetic version found in supplements and fortified foods(2). Food naturally contains folate. And although the incidence of neural tube defects (such as spina bifida) have declined significantly since folic acid was synthesized – by the “Folic Acid Boys” – in 1943, concerns have been raised about the safety of folic acid at high levels(3).

Folate is vital. Folate is a precursor of the DNA nucleotide thymine and so, as such, is essential for making new cells – whether they be brain cells, blood cells, or sperm cells. This is obviously even more important during periods of increased cell division and growth, such as pregnancy and infancy. Another biological pathway for folate is its conversion into methyl groups which are essential epigenetic tools for switching genes on (or off). This particular conversion is facilitated by the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase – or MTHFR for short. The efficiency of this enzyme will be dictated by your particular polymorphism for the gene that creates MTHFR(4). And if this wasn’t enough, these methyl groups can also play a role in reducing homocysteine by converting it back into methionine – which is good, as high levels of homocysteine can contribute to numerous vascular diseases.


serves 2

150g caviar lentils

1 red onion

a small avocado

½ a 200g feta block

1 tablespoon honey

salad leaves – I used a mix of baby bok choy, Swiss chard(ruby & magenta), and red streak frilly mustard.

a small handful mint leaves – or maybe basil.

a small handful of sprouts – I used sprouting beetroot.

Spiced Lemon Dressing

25ml apple cider vinegar

75ml olive oil

1 teaspoon mustard – make your own Mighty Mustard

1 teaspoon honey

¼ teaspoon turmeric

2 cloves, ground

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon of mixed cumin/ coriander seeds; warmed, then ground

a pinch of sea salt

freshly ground black pepper


for the onion

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Cut the onion – top to tail – leaving the skin on. Season the cut side and drizzle with olive oil. Then roast cut-side down for 20-25 minutes.
  3. When the onion is soft with caramalised edges; remove and set aside to cool.

for the lentils

  1. Put 300ml of water on to boil before adding the lentils. Bring back up to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes – or until tender. Add a pinch of salt 5 minutes before the end.
  2. Once cooked, remove from the heat, drain, and then set aside to cool a little.

for the feta

  1. Place the feta into a lightly oiled pan and cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes.
  2. Spoon over the honey before transferring to a hot grill. Once the honey has caramalised, remove from the heat.

putting it together

  1. After washing and spinning your leaves, lay them out on your serving plate, making a little well in the centre.
  2. Trim the root off the onion and slip it out of its outer leaves before cutting into segments. Toss the onion and avocado in with the lentils and spoon into the central well.
  3. Slide the grilled feta on top.
  4. Then halve the blackberries  and distribute them around the feta.
  5. Scatter the herbs and sprouts.
  6. Add all the dressing ingredients to a clean jam jar and shake vigorously – make sure the lid is on properly!
  7. Dress your salad and enjoy.





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