Warm Greek lentil salad with feta and dill (4 servings)

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I mentioned in my last post that spring is a great time for dinner salads, and this is another great one.  This recipe again comes from Jack Bishop's seasonal cookbook, and I made only a few changes to it.  I just left out the radishes, used less feta, added some cherry tomatoes, and substituted baby arugula for mesclun.  To be honest, I'm not even 100% sure what mesclun is, but the name sounded clunky and I couldn't find it in the grocery store anyway.  (I think it's similar to spring mix.)

You will need:

  • 1 1/4 cups dried green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 medium celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp dried dill
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 cups packed arugula or other spring salad greens
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Steps:

  1. Bring the lentils and garlic cloves to a boil in about 6 cups of water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Then, reduce the heat and simmer briskly with the lid askew for 15 minutes.
  2. Add in 1 tsp salt and the carrots and continue cooking for for about 10 minutes, or until the carrots and lentils are tender but not too soft.  Drain, discarding the garlic.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt together in a bowl.  (Or put it all in a screw-lid container and shake.)
  4. Place the drained lentils and carrots, the celery, dill, and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over this mixture and toss to coat evenly.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and allow the mixture to cool for about 10 minutes.
  5. Divide the arugula between four plates.  Spoon the lentil salad over top and sprinkle each plate with about 1/8 cup of feta.  Serve immediately.

This was a refreshing and filling dinner salad.  I liked the contrast between the soft, cooked lentils and carrots and the crunchy, raw celery.  The lemon offers a tangy brightness while the feta is creamy and salty.  The leftovers were great on their own the next day, and I assume they'd be delicious over rice or couscous, too.  I don't think serving the mixture warm is necessary, so I'd guess this could be prepared several hours ahead of time and served at room temperature.