Wednesday, June 16, 2010

H-town's Favorite Lentil Salad

One of my best meatspace friends emailed me recently with this dilemma:  

I'm trying not to eat bread because I think it's making me fat (and sugar for that matter). What do I eat? I'm tired of eggs, and I'm tired of almonds, and I don't and won't eat meat unless it came from an un-endangered fish. What do I do?

I think you have some answers.

I don't really know what I eat. Let's be honest, half the time we eat CRACKERS AND CHEESE for dinner because we're too lazy or too caught up to cook. BAD BAD BAD.

But. Quinoa, we eat a lot of quinoa. With stir fry or roast chicken (not helpful) or whatever. It's also good cold and salad-y with greens and goat cheese and maybe some pine nuts. Lots of soft polenta. (Often with eggs, though. You said you're sick of eggs.) Lots of risotto.

I really like this lentil dal recipe. I serve it with rice since I can't eat naan.

And then there's H's very favorite lentil salad:

Mediterranean Lentil Salad with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette (adapted from a San Francisco Examiner Magazine recipe by Jim Wood my mom clipped for me a kajillion years ago)
1 cup lentils
5 cups water
1 tomato, cored and chopped
Sparse 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped (kalamata olives work in a pinch, but they're not as good)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 stalks celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (Thyme gives me hives, so I skip it. But maybe you like thyme.)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro or Italian parsley (I prefer cilantro)

1. Combine lentils and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and let cool. Add tomato, olives, feta and celery and toss.

2. Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, and thyme in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Whisk in salt and pepper. I find that the dressing is tastier if you let it sit for a little while. Gives the garlic time to marinate.

3. Pour vinaigrette over salad, toss and season to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve. (Or, if you decide to skip the thyme, add the cilantro to the dressing instead.)

This was intended as a first course but we eat it as a main. If you're feeling crazy, serve it over quinoa.* Delish! I usually double the recipe so we can have leftovers. It's even better the next day.

(Image by Julia Randall)

*I told you we eat a lot of quinoa. You can make it in the rice cooker, b/t/w. Same ratio as brown rice: 1 1/2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa. And I like to add a dash of olive oil.


  1. oh my god, that chicken, oh my god. i think it is going to give me nightmares.

  2. @cevd what? it's a husband-chicken who likes lentil salad.

  3. You just summarized my gluten free life quite well. Polenta and eggs indeed.

  4. <3 I thought I was the only one

  5. Was sort of excited to see some chicken action over here.

    Then looked more closely at chicken.

    Now am scared to go home.

  6. awwwwwww, come on you guys. he's not scary, he's just a human-ish chicken.

  7. Delia Smith does great vegetarian food, including another brilliant lentil salad with rocket, walnuts and feta, mustard dressing.

    Also, rice and brown rice noodles are my favourite bread substitute. With coconut and lemongrass. Mmmmm...

  8. I love wilted spinach, chard, and arugula. I can't get enough of those greens! So I love to granola the shit out of chile rellenos by stuffing pasilla chiles with any of the above greens, leftover quinoa, garlic, and cubes of feta. In fact, use whatever grain you have, whatever veg you have, and whatever cheese you have. Wrap in foil and bake at 500 until the pepper is tender. This gets better the next day.

    A favorite and easy recipe for halibut is below. The only chopping involved is a little shallot and fennel, then you pretty much just throw it all together and let it simmer. Alaskan Halibut is approved by MBA and is just fucking delicious. I like to leave my halibut filets whole instead of cubed as the recipe suggests.

    PS Next time anyone makes quinoa, use 1/2 chix or veg stock and 1/2 white wine. It makes it taste so good!

  9. Small question - are they green lentils in this recipe?

  10. mmm, i love lentils and quinoa. i just found me a new recipe to try this weekend.
    so yeah, i think it's the tongue. the tongue is freaking everybody out.

  11. Yes! Another lentil recipe to add to my folder. Guessing this is best with black or green lentils, but I'll certainly experiment.

  12. Also, we haven't yet converted to quinoa. Of all the kitchen gadgets I own, a rice cooker is not among them (I think we eat rice about 3 times a year, tops) and for some reason I'm too lazy for any grain except couscous. But I keep meaning to snap out of it and use the quinoa.

  13. @michelle @Rachel I use green, but black might be really tasty too...

  14. receipe? sounds yummy.

    chicken? looks evil. xo.

  15. ESB! You are gluten-free?! I didn't think you could get any more awesome, but you totally just did in my books.

    Rachel, I have to say I'm in shock. Rice three times a year?!?! I think I'd eat rice about 5 times a week.

    You don't need a rice cooker to make rice or quinoa, just put it in a covered pot with the water and a pinch of salt, bring to the boil then turn right down and when the waters all gone it's done :) super easy!

    How about fritters of some sort? They do have egg in them usually but it's not the same as just eating eggs. Or corn on the cob? Or mexican food... tacos are GF and you can make delicious vegetarian mexican food - beans and corn and mushrooms and all manner of deliciousness.