Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

DSC_0013This Greek inspired lentil salad hits all the right notes – crunchy, creamy, light-yet-filling, and bursting with bright flavors.  It’s a great take-along for a Memorial Day picnic, and though it stands alone as a vegetarian entree, it would be a fabulous accompaniment to anything from burgers to grilled chicken.  The lemony dressing will seem like too much at first, but the lentils will absorb it over time.  French green lentils are worth seeking out – they have a wonderful nutty flavor and do not get mushy like other lentils.  I also love French feta if you can find it – it is milder and creamier than other varieties.

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

makes approximately 6 cups

  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 3 cloves garlic, one peeled and two minced
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small cucumber, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • cherry tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 small red onion, small diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup feta, small diced
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with one peeled garlic clove and a large pinch of salt.  Add lentils and cook over medium-high heat until lentils are tender and cooked through, 18-20 minutes.  Drain, then place in a large bowl.
  2. While lentils are cooking, make the dressing by whisking together the two minced garlic cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  3. Add dressing to the still-warm lentils.  Allow to cool completely.
  4. While lentils are cooling, chop veggies, herbs and feta.  After chopping the tomatoes and cucumbers, place in a colander lined with paper towels for at least 10 minutes to absorb excess liquid.
  5. Add all veggies and herbs to the cooled lentil mixture.  Stir in feta last.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

What to Bring: Lemon Garlic Hummus

DSC_0307Store-bought hummus makes an appearance at almost every casual get together these days, but you can up the ante by bringing a flavor-packed homemade version to this year’s Memorial Day cookout.  It comes together in minutes, and DIYing it allows you to use fresh seasonal ingredients that may not appear in those little round tubs at the grocery store.DSC_0305Lemon Garlic Hummus

makes 3 cups

  • 2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (use two or three cloves if you are less of a garlic enthusiast)
  • 3 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • a few grinds of pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzle
  1. Set aside a big pinch of the lemon zest.
  2. Place all of the ingredients except for the olive oil and the pinch of lemon zest into the bowl of a food processor and process until combined.  Through the feed tube with the food processor running, pour in the olive oil and process until hummus is smooth and creamy.
  3. Place in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with the reserved lemon zest.

The jar of tahini will last for ages in the fridge, so if you keep garlic and a few cans of chickpeas on hand, you’ll find yourself throwing this together all of the time with whatever you have in the house.  Jarred roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, ghardiniera peppers, chipotles, artichokes, and olives all make great versions, and the recipe is easily halved.

recipe and photos by the aesthete and the dilettante