Thursday, July 28, 2011

Since I did very little cooking these past two weeks, I wanted to make something healthy for dinner tonight.

My first inspiration came from right outside our apartment windows. My basil plants finally have grown big enough so I could harvest some of the leaves. I decided to make a summer salad based on lentils, tomatoes and fresh herbs that I often made when I lived in Kansas.

Thanks to the thriving local farmers market and a co-op grocery store in Lawrence, Kansas, I discovered a local cookbook, Rolling Prairie Cookbook, by Nancy O’Connor. The cookbook features fresh fruits and vegetables and utilizing them as much as possible in the kitchen. I fondly looked to a dog-eared page of the “Lentil and feta cheese salad” to refresh my memory.

As with any salad, you can really utilize whatever fresh ingredients you have on hand. Today, I went to the Ulus pazar so my refrigerator was stocked up with plenty of fresh herbs and vegetables. My recipe is not a traditional version of a Turkish yeşil mercimek salatası.
My only advice is to be careful cooking the lentils so as not to overcook them, and to let the lentils thoroughly cool down before you add the herbs and veggies.

Afiyet Olsun!

Yeşil Mercimek Salatası (Green Lentil Salad)

1 c. green lentils (yeşil mercimek), rinsed
2 c. water or chicken stock (I used the stock to give the lentils more flavor.)

2 medium tomatoes, medium chopped
2 cucumbers, sliced in circles
½ small red onion, finely diced
12 Turkish black olives, roughly chopped (Tip: I used a cherry pitter to easily pit the olives.)
2-3 T. fresh basil, chiffonade
2-3 T. fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 T. fresh dill, chopped
TT salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T. olive oil
1 T. nar ekşili sos (pomegranate molasses)

Optional: add crumbled beyaz peynir to the salad right before serving.

1. In a medium-sized pot, add the lentils and water or chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
2. While the lentils are cooking, prep the vegetables and herbs. Mix everything together, season with salt and pepper.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and nar ekşili sos. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the ingredients. Set the mixture aside in the refrigerator.
4. When the lentils are done cooking, rinse with cold water. Strain. Let the lentils cool completely before mixing with the fresh ingredients. Refrigerate the mixed salad for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to mingle together.

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