greens and grains

the cookbook gods have been in my favor as of late. last week, i came home to find "cooking the lebanese way" in my mailbox! it was sent by wonderful aunt and uncle and my fridge has been stocked with staple lebanese ingredients ever since.

coincidentally, the same day i was gifted this wonderful surprise, i also found out about the #cookforsyria cookbook. as a fundraiser to combat the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, UNICEF's Syrian Relief Fund hosted a month-long campaign that celebrated Syrian cuisine and is currently selling #cookforsyria cookbooks. though i'm technically a month late on this particular campaign, the syrian and lebanese cookbooks inspired me to get cooking (and place a cookbook order!).

i really deeply admire what #cookforsyria is trying to accomplish. what is happening in the middle east right now is a level of suffering and tragedy no one should ever have to endure, and #cookforsyria is one way to stand in solidarity. nothing brings people together like food - be it aunts and uncles who send you a cookbook they know you'll love or friends you gather rather a table to raise funds and awareness for those who are most in need.

this salad was initially inspired by tabbouleh, a fresh, vibrant lebanese dish packed with parsley, lemon, bulgur and mint. it's a side dish my family has typically served with roasted lamb, hummus and pita. in this case, however, i used the salad for my standard work-day lunch as it made for easy sunday meal prep, but it would also make a bright dish at a dinner party. 

it's a lentil base filled with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, mixed with handfuls of fresh herbs and tossed in a lemon tahini dressing. to add a bit of acidic punch to balance the freshness of the tomatoes and cucumbers, i added quick pickled red onions. the pickling recipe from bon appétit, and is increasingly my standard favorite standby.  

this salad works great on its own, but i can also recommend tossing it on top of kale to make it more of a "greens" salad. you may also want to try it scooped on top of a baked sweet potato.

lentil salad with feta, herbs and vegetables in lemon tahini sauce

serves 4
what you'll need:

1 cup lentils
2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cucumber, sliced and quartered
1 cup fresh parsley, stems removed and chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, stems removed and chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup feta (Pastures of Eden brand, preferred)
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp tahini
Juice of 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
2/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp crushed garlic

how you'll do it:

  1. cook lentils according to package instructions. after fully cooked, remove from heat and cool completely.
  2. to pickle the onions, whisk together apple cider vinegar, sugar, kosher salt and 1 cup water in a small bowl until sugar and salt dissolve. place red onion in large bowl, then pour vinegar mixture over the onion. let rest at room temperature for an hour. drain excess liquid before serving. place leftovers in covered bowl in fridge. 
  3. to make the lemon tahini sauce, in a medium bowl whisk together tahini, lemon juice, greek yogurt and garlic with 3 tbsp warm water. once all ingredients are combined and smooth, set aside. if consistency is too thick for you, add more warm water as needed and re-mix.
  4. to assemble salad, in a large bowl mix together tomatoes and cucumber with a pinch of kosher salt. mix in parsley, mint, pickled red onions and chickpeas. stir to combine, crumbling in feta cheese and pouring in lentils. stir to combine, tossing in tahini dressing until salad is coated to your preference.