Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sarah's Lentil Feta Salad

I had this really amazing Lentil Feta Salad from Food Emporium a few months ago. I ripped off the plastic ingredients list in the hope to replicate it at some point.
I made it tonight for lunch tomorrow. I ended up changing about half the ingredients, but I liked the use of feta and olives, as well as the use of Italian seasoning, so I used that as the basis of my creation. I replicated the recipes below, but before that, I must have a spirited discussion about salads:

Salads without lettuce are by far the most underrated and underseen culinary delights. I remember the first time I had a non-lettuce based salad. I was sixteen, in France, at a homestay. The family served a tomato salad. I couldn't believe it: a salad made ENTIRELY OF MY FAVORITE VEGETABlE, with cheese and oil and herbs!?

Since then I've experimented with vegetables (tomatoes, broccoli, cucumber), beans (chickpeas, black beans, corn), bread (panzanella!) and now grains. One of my standbys, cowboy caviar, is a riff on salsa and actually supposed to be a dip for tortilla chips, but I prefer to eat it plain. That salad is a mix of black beans and corn, with tomato, avocado, green onion, and a cilantro and cumin viniagrette.

Here's the Lentil Feta Salad

2 cups green lentils, rinsed and cooked al dente
4 green onions
1/4 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
15 or so olives
2 oz feta cheese (more if you want it richer)
Juice of one lemon

The vegetables should be finely diced so they match the size of the lentils.

a few pinches each of oregano and basil
a couple pinches each of paprika and thyme
3+ cloves roasted garlic, finely diced
salt and pepper to taste. Sea salt recommended.
Several shakes of red pepper flakes. Turn up the heat!
Obviously, this is kind of a "season to taste" thing.

I can't wait to have this for lunch - it looks so colorful and beautiful and really elegant and sophisticated. I have always favored chunky dices in the past, because I like to be able to pick out the individual flavors of a dish, but there's something to be said for how the flavors meld with a fine dice and make the eating experience mysteriously complete: you see the different colors and taste slightly different textures, but each bite blends together, perhaps (trite line here) creating a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Ok - Project Runway time...

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