If you’re anything like me, they are some foods that used to gross you out and that you, amazingly, love now. Lentils are it for me. First off, they look ugly. Small, brownish and tasteless if not well accommodated. Sometimes they are served mushy and look like mud. Other times they are “firm” al-dente, limit under-cooked.
Growing up, the only way it was served to me was with sausage and pork belly (Petit salé aux lentilles). It’s a rustic dish that tastes super yummy if well prepared but doesn’t look too appealing, kind of bland, color wise. And it didn’t help that when I was little, I didn’t like sausages. They use to give me headaches. Yes, for real! My family and friends always thought that I was lying and made fun of me for years! But, I have been vindicated thanks to the internet! Turns out it’s very common and it’s mainly due to the nitrates used in curing the meat (learn more here).
But, enough childhood regression, let’s talk about food! Lentils… With the “anti-meat” phenomenon and the “more fiber in your diet” lifestyle, lentils are in! They’re super rich in protein and fiber and therefor, a great addition to your diet! And with that, comes a plethora of ways to eat them. I have to say, I love lentils now because they’re inexpensive and you can eat them all year round as stew or soup in the winter or salads in warmer days.
My recipe is very simple and so refreshing! The tomatoes give it a needed punch of color and the cilantro and garlic its refreshing flavor. All you do is chop and mix. Aside from the time it takes to cook the lentils (10-15 minutes, depending on how firm you like them), it’s ready in 10 minutes. Try it, I know it will become a staple in your home too!
In a medium pot, bring 4 cups of water with salt to a boil. Add your lentils and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how firm you like your lentils. Once cooked, drain them and stop the cooking by rinsing them with cold water.
In a salad bowl add your tomatoes, cilantro, onions and lentils. Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Add to the salad and mix well. Finish by adding the feta cheese. Taste to adjust the seasoning.
I prefer letting the salad cool in the fridge for a good hour but it's also delicious as is, lukewarm.