“A bright and colorful Mediterranean-inspired mix of lentils, fresh bell pepper, tomatoes and spinach tossed in a garlic, olive oil and balsamic dressing and topped with a sprinkling of feta cheese. You can eat this on its own or you can couple this with baked whole wheat pitas. I love taking this to potlucks or gatherings and it’s a always a hit.”
- 2-3 whole wheat pitas
- olive oil for brushing on pitas
- 2/3 cup dried green lentils
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
- Handful of baby spinach
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup minced shallot (about 2)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (the tangier the better)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tsp dried basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
- cilantro for garnish
- Brush pita lightly with olive oil. Cut in quarters and set on a baking sheet. Bake for about 5-7 minutes on 375 degrees or until lightly crisped to your liking. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook lentils in boiling water until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Don’t overcook or they will start to disintegrate. Drain in a colander. Set colander aside so lentils can continue to drain and dry out. (If I have time, I will cook the lentils ahead of time so they can sit in the colander for 30-60 minutes while draining of any excess moisture. An alternative is to place a large rimmed baking sheet on the counter with 2 layers of paper towels on top. Layer the drained lentils on top of the paper towels then plan a third layer of paper towels on top. Let sit for 5-10 minutes so paper towels can wick excess moisture from lentils.)
- Meanwhile, seed your tomato and dice, cut up the bell pepper, and remove any stems from the baby spinach. Place all the prepared veggies in a bowl along with completely drained lentils. In separate bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar, olive oil, basil, minced garlic and shallot. Taste for salt and pepper and season accordingly.
- Pour about 1/2 of the dressing on the lentil salad and stir. Taste and if more dressing is needed, add until the right consistency/flavor. Add in feta cheese. Reserve extra dressing for later if needed.
- For best results, refrigerate for at least 1 hour for flavors to meld. Serve on top of pita triangles and garnish with a sprig of cilantro.
Footnote: Feel free to play around with the quantity of olive oil, vinegar and spices. I like mine a little tangier and typically add more balsamic vinegar. Add more spinach to absorb any excess dressing.
Also, the spinach will wilt as you add the dressing. This is normal. It will make it meld into the salad very nicely and add a bright green that contrasts beautifully with the red tomatoes and peppers.