Monday, July 7, 2014

Lentil Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

This is the type of salad your mother would be so proud to hear you are eating. (Unless, of course, your mother is the type of woman who believes dinner should come from a can or a box in which case she'll feel you've gone all hippie on her.) Unfortunately, it is often the type of salad that gets passed right over at the church/work potluck as people head towards the pan of potatoes and cheese. It's like one of those foods that has a "nice personality." I mean, it does have two varieties of earth-toned beans in it. It is wholesome and not flashy. And yet it is absolutely not boring or yucky (when frankly, there are many many pans of potatoes and cheese in this world that are both those things). The thing about foods (and most likely people too) with a nice personality is that they often have so much more--a burst of tangy feta you weren't expecting, the brightness of the lemon zest and fresh cilantro, the unusual yet satisfying bite of the tahini. This salad--it just does more than the sometimes-flatness of its flashier, saucier potluck competitors. You should give it a try. (Note: I have NOT ever taken this to a potluck of any variety. I will have to try it to see if it gives those pans of potatoes a run for their money after all.)

The other perfect-for-summer thing about it is that it can be eaten cold or at room temperature. In this way, it's ideal for picnics or work lunches or sweltering summer evenings

Also, it's super cheap and perfectly filling

Lentil Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing
adapted from Smells Like Brownies
serves 4
prep time: 30 minutes
Cost: $2.35 or about $.60/serving (and it can easily fill you up for lunch)
lentils: .20, chick peas: .70, garlic: .05, olive oil: .10, lemon: .30, tahini: .20, feta: .50, other stuff: .10, onion: .20

To cook lentils:
scant cup dry lentils (I used brown; green would work too and be a bit prettier)
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 fresh sage sprigs
5 Tbsp olive oil
2 C water

For dressing:
1 tsp coriander
3/4 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic
sea salt
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp water

Other stuff:
1 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch salt
1 small red onion (mine was quite small--I don't like the onion to overpower everything else; use only 1/2 if you worry about this)
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 C feta crumbles
15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp lemon zest

Combine lentils, 2 cloves of garlic, sage, and 2 Tbsp olive oil in a small pot with 2 C water. Cook over medium heat. Let water come to simmer, then turn to low and cook until lentils tender. This will take about 25 minutes. Take pan off heat and drain. Discard the sage and garlic.

As your lentils cook, make the salad dressing. 

Combine coriander and cumin in a small pan and toast until fragrant (this brings out the flavor of the herbs, but can be skipped if you're in a rush).

Mash 1 clove of garlic with 1 tsp sea salt until it forms a paste. Combine garlic paste, toasted spices, 3 Tbsp lemon juice, tahini, and 2 Tbsp water. Mix well.

Put onions in a bowl or on a serving platter. Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp olive oil, and a pinch or two of salt. Toss this well and crumble in your feta.

Now assemble it all: Add your chickpeas to your lentils. Add lemon zest and another shake of salt (or up to another 1/2-1 tsp salt). Toss this with your onions. Then add the dressing. Taste for seasonings and salt.

Garnish with cilantro or parsley (cilantro is definitely my favorite).


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