Greek Lentil Salad

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If you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you probably realize that I’m a pretty straight shooter.  No superfluous, flowery prose here.  I do my best to avoid the excessive use of adjectives and I try to avoid claims that a certain recipe is the best ever, or that it will change your life.  That said, describing this lentil salad as anything less of magical would be selling it short in a major way.

Since cooking Greek was a last minute decision, I did some quick Google searches to find Greek cookbook recommendations.  In a certain Chowhound discussion, several Chowhounders recommended Flavors of Greece and specifically praised this lentil salad.

I’m so glad that I took their word for it and made this salad.  It’s bright, flavorful, complex and healthy.  It’s also vegetarian and vegan-friendly (my vegan friends, just omit the Greek yogurt.  I snuck many many tastes before the yogurt was added and it was still excellent).But please don’t leave out the quick preserved lemons; they add such a pleasant salty and sweet tang.  After you taste them, you might even be tempted to add more of them to the salad.  This salad is also making me think that I need to add a favorites category to my recipe index…. and you better believe it would make the cut.

And just one final note for any Greek yogurt fans.  For a long time I made my own yogurt and strained it to make my own Greek-style yogurt.  I just don’t have the time to do it anymore, but I still need my fix from time to time.  Unfortunately Fage runs more than $10 a container out here, so when I saw this much more reasonably priced Greek yogurt from The Greek Gods, I was happy to give it a shot.  It’s super super good.  No, I’m not getting paid to say that, I’m just a fan.  I can’t wait to try the honey version.

Greek Lentil Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

* 2 cups dried green lentils
* 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds, briefly pulsed in a coffee or spice grinder (or lightly pounded in a mortar)
* 1/2 large red onion, cut into very very thin half circles
* juice of 1 lemon, approximately 3 Tablespoons, divided
* 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, divided
* 2 Tablespoons finely chopped mint
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons quick preserved lemon, divided
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* salt and pepper
* 3 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
* cayenne pepper

Directions:

Rinse the lentils, place in a large saucepan and cover with several inches of cold water. Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the lentils are soft but not falling apart. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Drain the lentils in a colander and set aside in the sink or over a plate to dry.

Place the cumin in a small dry skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring, until aromatic.

Combine the sliced onion, half of the lemon juice, half of the cumin, 1 Tablespoon of the parsley, and the mint and stir to combine.

Chop the garlic, 1/4 cup of the preserved lemon, the rest of the cumin, half of the remaining parsley, and a pinch of salt together to mix. Combine this in a large bowl with the lentils, the remaining parsley and lemon juice, the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir to mix.

Transfer to a platter and top with the marinated onions. Spoon the yogurt onto the center and sprinkle with the remaining preserved lemon and the cayenne pepper.

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