Mediterranean Lentil Salad
If you know my cooking and weight loss story, you know I love lentils. Lentil soup was the first meal I prepared in the summer of 2001 as I was forced to cook for myself while I was living on a small working farm in Ashford, CT. Recalling meals of my childhood, I remade my grandmas lentils until I got the pot of soup just right. Packed with fiber and protein they’re one of my favorite meal bases and they quickly became a filling and inexpensive staple in my diet. To this day, in an effort to be a conscious eater, a few days a week I also try to go meatless … enter the lentil.
Lentils can be adapted into soups and salads, made into “faux meat” taco filling (you’d be amazed at what a little cumin can do), pureed into dip and made into meatballs or burgers. I love taking oft underrated foods, like the bean (poor beans) and turning them into something different. This simple lentil preparation can be made ahead, travels well in bagged lunches and can withstand sitting outside of refrigeration if you’re on the go when it comes to lunches.
It’s 83 degrees on this steamy Fall NYC evening and so I’m seizing this Indian Summer to contribute a Mediterranean lentil salad to the Tina To Table archives. Filled with cucumbers, tomatoes, chopped olives, red onion, lemon juice and zest - the flavors in this salad make for a palate popping pleaser of a meal (or side). Topped with creamy feta that adds smoothness to the texture of this salad, you won’t miss meat because it’s hearty, crunchy, creamy and satisfying. Low in calories and high on taste, first fill your plate with veggies and legumes to make for a nutritionally dense meal.
Start bringing more balanced meal practices into your home and bagged lunches.
Mediterranean Lentil Salad
1 ½ cups of lentils cooked *I prefer Trader Joe’s French Lentils and cook them according to the package instructions; splitting the stock with white wine to infuse added flavor into this salad
2 cups of grape tomatoes sliced into thirds
1 cup of cucumbers, cubed
¼ cup of olives, chopped
3 Tablespoons of red onion, diced
Zest + Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
⅓ cup of crumbled feta
Salt to taste *if necessary
Prepare lentils according to package instructions *be careful to not overcook, we do not want mushy lentil salad
Add all ingredients up to feta and toss to coat; taste and very lightly salt if the olives are not doing the trick - noting you will be adding feta
Upon serving, add feta and gently mix
Serve as a main or side; can be eaten atop greens, top chicken with lentil salad, or stuff in a pita with protein of choice