I’m still in the months following a big, long trip to Europe which included a one week excursion to the lovely Greek island of Paros. And Paros was, well, PAR-O-dise. Buh-dum-ching! Did ya catch that?! Horrible…
Well, unfortunately – or fortunately – I’m forced to recall the wonderful details of a time when I was once on a faraway island, on vacation, not working a bit, enjoying the warm sunshine and refreshing beach air. Yes, friends do want to hear about how lovely the landscape was, how genuinely friendly the locals were, and they especially can’t wait for me to walk them through each tasty meal. Obviously, that’s the most important part of every travel experience – duh.
I can’t say I had one bad meal while in Greece. Truly. I mean, Greek food is just so deliciously simple. I love that the cuisine remains so rooted in traditional and local ingredients. There are probably some young Greek chefs doing creative, modern things, but my budget requires that I stick with more traditional (ahem, more affordable) taverna fare. That is not to say boring. No, no, no.
Everyone’s eaten Greek salad. I’ll tell you it’s even more amazing in Greece. The tomatoes and the feta and the olives and the cucumbers. Lordy! The cucumbers. Oh, and the olive oil! We could talk about Greek olive oil. A Greek salad in the heat of summertime is everything. What Greek salads aren’t: filling. They’re filling for a second, but I regularly found myself seeking out a spanakopita from a bakery (no complaints!) a couple hours after my light lunch of veggies.
However, at home and sans spanakopita, I need a little bit more protein to sustain me through the afternoon and prevent me from eating everything I see. With some extra lentils on hand, I decided they were just the right neutral and slightly earthy flavor to boost a traditional Greek salad. I think it’s a gorgeous color contrast, as well.
Greek-Style Lentil Salad
Ingredients + Directions
- 2 cups lentils du Puy
- 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 6 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons of chopped fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, grated or minced
- ½ pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ greenhouse cucumber (or mini seedless cucs), cut in ¼ inch cubes
- 6-8 oz. feta cheese
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
- Place the lentils in a saucepan with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Strain and set aside.
- Whisk olive oil, zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a bowl. It should be well seasoned (heavily salted and peppered) as it will be tossed with the rest of the ingredients.
- Add vinaigrette to the lentils and allow lentils to fully cool. When cooled, add the chopped herbs, onion, tomatoes, and the cucumber. Stir gently to combine.
- Transfer salad to a large serving platter and crumble feta over the top.